Among the religions that were incepted in India, Hinduism is considered to be the religion of Vedas and Upanishads, the origin of which is attributed to Aryans
· The scholars of Sanskrit believed that Sanskrit was closely related to Latin and Greek in structure and possibly in sound. This led to the theory of a common language originally spoken by the Indo-European people who were considered to be the ancestors of the Aryan-speaking tribes. The Indo-European people emerged from the region of the Caspian Sean and the southern Russian grasslands. Then gradually divided into a number of tribes which spread far afield in search of pasture, to Greece and Asia Minor, to Iran, and finally to India, by which time they were called "Aryans."
who migrated into northern India , some time in the second millenium. The excavations at Harappa and Mohenjodaro in 1921-2 have revealed the existence of pre-Aryan civilization, dating back to about 5000 years, in the northwest of India. That civilization is known as the Indus valley civilization. These indigenes have worshipped Shiv in the form of Linga and had practiced a religion that is quite distinctive from that of Aryans, who worshipped many Gods in personifications of nature. This indigenous religion is known as the Dravidian religion and the culture has been labeled as the Sindhu culture. However, the Indus Valley civilization was declined in the second millenium BC and had almost completely disintegrated by 1500 BC when the Aryans entered the northwest of India.
The history of Veerashaivism (another variation of this terminology is Virasaivism as spelled out in many literatures) is vague and not understood precisely by either historians or scholars. In historical perspective, one may consider that Veerashaivism was born out of Shaivism, which was flourished with little minor differentiation from pre-Vedic time to the end of 11th century. But the beginning of 12th century witnessed the rise of Jainism and Vaishnavism and the decline of Shaivism. By the middle of 12th century, the sprout of Veerashaivism was beginning to appear in Karnatak State, India under the nourishment of Basavanna. He was a great saint, philosopher, religious teacher (Guru) and a social reformer, who rescued the Shaivism from its decay by freeing it from the manacles of Varnashrama, and gave it a new dimension. It is that religion rehabilitated, reinvigorated, and revolutionized over the years has come to be known as Veerashaivism. Thus the 12th century visionaries like Basavanna, Allamaprabhu, Channabasavanna, Akkamahadevi, and a band of other Shiv Sharanas (saints) must be credited properly for their effort in shaping up the Veerashaiva religion.
The origin of Veerashaivism has not been established clearly either. However, all the existing literature with great accuracy points towards Basavanna in the 12th century. There is also a growing belief that relies on the "Things handed down traditionally", which serve as a kind of gospel truth. According to the latter, the Veerashaiva religion was found long time ago, even well before the twelfth century, by five great prophets, who are know as Panchacharyas (Pancha means five and Acharyas means prophets). These five prophets are,
· Revanaradhya or Revanasiddha
· Marularadhya or Marulasiddha
· Ekoramaradhya or Ekorama
It is believed that they arose out of five great Sthavaralingas respectively located in Balehonnur (Karnatak State), Ujjani (Karnatak State), Kedar (Uttar Pradesh), Shrishail (Andra Pradesh), and Kashi or Benares (Uttar Pradesh) under different names in different Yugas.
· Hindu thinkers had evolved a cyclic theory of time. The cycle was called a Kalpa and was equivalent to 4,320 million earthly years. The Kalpa was divided into 14 periods and at the end of each of these the universe is recreated and once again Manu (primeval man) gives birth to human races. At the moment we are in the 7th of these 14 periods of the present Kalpa. Each of these periods is divided into 71 Great Intervals (Mahayuga or great age of the world) and each are further sub-divided into 4 Yugas or periods of time decrease successively in excellence. These respectively are Kritayuga (4,800 god-years, one god-year is being 360 human years. or 1,728 thousand years), Tretayuga (3,600 god-years or 1,296 thousand years), Dvaparayuga (2,400 god-years or 864 thousand years), and Kaliyuga (1,200 god-years or 432 thousand years). We are now in the fourth of these Yugas. It is a general belief that in the Kaliyuga, when the world is full of evil and wickedness, the end of the world is eminent, though there are several millennia yet before the end.
Let us now examine little more details about these Panchacharyas.
Revanaradhya occupied the pontifical seat or Matha (monastery) of present Balehonnur. All the available evidences suggest that there was one Revanaradhya, an older or senior contemporary of Basavanna, who was a great Shivayogi. He was a Shaiva and had a son named Rudramuni who, according to his father's wish, joined the coterie of Sharanas that followed Basavanna, Channabasavanna, and Siddarama. As a result of catastrophe at Kalyana, Sharanas dispersed in different directions and henceforth either died or lived in exile. Before the dispersal took place in Kalyana, it was believed that the Rudramuni was asked by Channabasavanna to go out of Kalyana and spread the newly found religion. Rudramuni did accordingly to the best of his ability. He had a disciple (Shishya) by the name Muktimani, who in turn had a disciple named Digambar Muktimani, who found the Matha at Balehonnur and named after Revanaradhya, the father of Rudramuni, out of his respect for him. Such is the short history of the Matha of Revanaradhya.
Marularadhya also known as Marulasiddha or Marula, was the founder of the pontifical throne at Ujjani, seems to have lived at the time of Revanaradhya; though a bit younger than Revanaradhya and has been said to be the disciple of Revanaradhya. There are many books about Revanaradhya but they are only a few about Marularadhya. It appears that both have lived about the same time of Basavanna. They have preached and promoted the Veerashaiva religion and due to that they were known as Acharyas at their time. But in due course, they were regarded as the Veerashaiva founders (Veerashaiva-Samsthapanacharyas).
It is vague and some times difficult to say who was the third Acharya and who was the fourth. In some Kannada works Ekoramaradhya is given the third place and Panditaradhya the fourth, but in some other works the order is reversed. In any event, we shall credit Panditaradhya as the third Acharya.
Panditaradhya who occupied the pontifical seat at Shrishail was intimately connected with Veerashaiva religion and Basavanna. He was contemporary of Basavanna though a little younger to him. It is said that he was eager to have the audience (Darshana) of Basavanna; perhaps he had not have seen Basavanna before and about whom, he had heard so much in connection with the Veerashaiva religion that was gaining tremendous momentum during that time. Unfortunately, before he could have the Darshana of Basavanna, Basavanna was merged into Sangameshvara, which inflicted Panditaradhya with a great shock. His devotion towards Basavanna was so great that he was able to see the figure of Basavanna in his own Istalinga even after the death of Basavanna. Panditaradhya is said to have proved the superiority of his new religion over all other religions in the court of one of Chola kings, who must have been Kulottunga, the Chola, who lived in about 1178 AD.
Panditaradhya must have been a Shaiva in the beginning and later must have embraced Veerashaiva religion under the influence of Basavanna. He being a Telugu man himself seems to have composed a eulogy to Basavanna in Kannada. The question is, how did he come to know Kannada? The story goes as follows: Basavanna had sent him some holy ashes, which, when Panditaradhya applied to his body, his lips were started uttering Kannada words. This is how he was said to have composed encomium on Basavanna. This miracle, however, can be explained in this way also. Panditaradhya was a Telugu man whereas Basavanna was a Kannada man. Basavanna's Vachanas, a literary treasure of Veerashaiva religion and philosophy, are in Kannada. Panditaradhya must have learned Kannada afterwards in order to acquaint himself with Vachanas of Basavanna as well as of his notable colleagues in which the religion and philosophy of Veerashaiva are taught. Because of his earnestness and devotion to this new religion, he might have mastered the language in a surprisingly short time. Panditaradhya in his "Shivatattvasara" writings has praised Basavanna very affectionately.
In spite of all these, Panditaradhya was failed to assimilate the fundamental tenets of Veerashaiva religion even after he embraced it. For him, it must have been a great departure from his old Shaiva faith. At the same time, the older beliefs and values were making room for news ones under the leadership of Basavanna. The glamour of the new religion had attracted a great many people. Some could enter into its spirit and some others could only grasp its form. Panditaradhya must have been one of those belong to the latter class. He was once a Shaiva and later converted Veerashaiva presented with dual personalities of Telugu and Kannada. Yet, he was not an ordinary man, he was a Pundit. He must have had the entire knowledge even before he became the Veerashaiva. His influence must have been profound. What a great honor to be bestowed upon him as one of the great Veerashaiva Acharyas!
Ekoramaradhya is also known as Ekorama occupied the pontifical seat at Kedar, whose account is being briefly mentioned in "Gururaja-Charitre" by Siddhananjesha. He preached Veerashaiva religion and often convinced learned men of other faiths about the greatness and superiority of Veerashaiva religion even to the extent of converting them to Veerashaiva faith. This is an indicative of Ekoramaradhya being existed later than Basavanna, but the uncertainty regarding "How many years later" is not still resolved. It is believed that he lived in Mudrapura at the time of Veerabhaskara, the king of Mudrapura. But the lack of definite time period for reigning of king Veerabhaskara makes it even worse to pin point the exact time of Ekoramaradhya's existence.
According to "Devanga Purana" in Sanskrit, there lived a person by the name of Devara Dasimayya, a contemporary of Basavanna. It is stated therein that Ekoramaradhya was a son of Dasimayya. Both father and son were Shaivas of a Dvija class (Dvija means twice-born castes, the first being the physical birth and the second the initiation into caste status) but not of Veerashaiva faith. It is also recorded that both had thread wearing (Upanayana) ceremony performed. If Ekoramaradhya were Veerashaiva, it was not necessary for him to undergo the Upanayana ceremony. Hence, it appears that Ekoramaradhya must have become Veerashaiva much later in his life, which suggest that he could possibly not have been the founder of the Veerashaiva religion. It is clearly stated in "Gururaja-Charitre" that one Ganthakarna Ganathana, otherwise known as Ramanathacharya gave him initiation into Veerashaiva religion.
Ekoramaradhya in turn converted many persons of other faiths to his newly acquired Veerashaiva faith. Since he was an instrumental in the growth of Veerashaiva religion, he has come to be regarded as one of the founders of the religion by the people of the later generations.
Vishvaradhya is the fifth Acharya who supposed to have found the Veerashaiva religion and had occupied the pontifical seat at Kashi. There is very little account of him in Kannada literature, and not at all mentioned by great many authors who have written extensively on other four Acharyas, starting with Revanaradhya and ending with Ekoramaradhya. The reason appears to be that he might have been very recent and much later than Basavanna. He seems to have been added to the string of other four Acharyas only to make the number of Acharyas equal to five corresponding to five faces of Shiv. The myth of five Acharyas rising from the five faces of Parameshvara must have gained wide popularity only very recently long after Basavanna's time. The birth of fifth Acharya, however, is explained in "Veerashaiva Sanjivini of Mummadi Karyendra" as follows:
One day Lord Shiv was seated in his audience in Kailas, at which time, the Narada - the reputed newsmonger - presented himself before the audience. In reply to Shiv's inquiry about Veerashaiva faith on the earth, Narada stated that the faith in question is in decline state. Hearing this Shiv ordered Sthula Ganesh, a divine member of his assembly, go down to the earth at once and revive the ailing Veerashaiva faith as the other four Acharyas have done before. Accordingly, Sthula Ganesh took birth on earth as a son of one Kempa-bhupati. Therefore, it seems that Vishvaradhya did not rise either from one of the five faces of Shiv or from Sthavaralinga as mythical stories lead us to believe.
It is important to note that neither Acharyas have left any literature beyond them nor do we find any evidence in the Puranas literature (Puranas are the historical tradition beginning with creation of universe and including detailed genealogies of each dynasty. These are composed at a later date than the Vedic literature). It seems very odd because many founders of other religions, like Goutama Buddha, Christ, etc. have either left literature beyond them or plenty of literature about their doctrines is in existence. Contrary to Acharyas, Basavanna, like other founders, has left left behind abundant literature of his faith.
In addition to five Acharyas, few others were also labeled as the founders of the Veerashaiva religion. For example, in "Manasavijaya Kavya" one Gurubasava who lived about 1430 AD is said to have found the Veerashaiva Matha. Kereya Padmarasa of the 12th century was credited to have been the founder of "Shri Shivadvaita Sakara Siddhanta." Anadi Veerashaiva Sarasangraha and Siddhaveeranacharya of Sampadane, who lived at the close of 16th century, are said to have been the far most of those who found the religion of Shatsthala. In addition, there are also other instances too. If all these persons can be called as the founders of the faith, then the Panchacharyas can also be called as the founders of the religion.
The first Veerashaiva pontifical throne was that of Allamaprabhu. It is known as the Shunyasinhasana. The five pontifical thrones of five Acharyas were established later to propagate Veerashaiva religion and to protect it from aggressors. As mentioned earlier, the pontifical throne of Revanaradhya, according to Channabasava Purana, was established close to the time of disruption that took place following the affair of Haralayya and Madhuvayya, and also close to the exit of Basavanna from Kalyana. At such critical juncture, there was a need for Matha for the propagation of the faith that was still in its infancy and besides the society was still clinging on the old concept of Sthavaralinga. The first Matha that was found in consequence was done so in the name of Revanaradhya. The other four Mathas followed the suit in course of time and came to be named after other four Acharyas. It should be noted that the Acharyas after Basavanna are real personages. However, the Acharyas before Basavanna have no existence apart from being imaginary.
By the time the 12th century was ushered in, Jainism and Vaishnavism had gained ascendancy. Shaivism in the south had reached a crisis and the time had come for it either to rise or to fall. It had already passed half century, but it was not to go down, for that, the great hero emerged who revolutionized the Shaiva faith within a short span of time. The attempt was heroic and the achievement was brilliant. Shaivism rose to be triumphant over the trammels of Varnashrama and the results was Veerashaivism. The hero happened to be the Prime Minister of then Jain king Bijjala of Karnatak. He was a Kannada man. The Kannada became the language of the scriptures of the new heroic religion, and Karnatak became the home of this new faith as it is even today. That was how the new religion came to be heroically found and that is why it is called Veerashaiva religion - heroic Shaiva faith. That is how Basavanna was crowned to be the king of this great religion though he was a premier of a little kingdom.
During the 12th century, there was a galaxy of Veerashaiva saints (Sharanas), about two hundred in number, in Karnatak. They were the flares of Veerashaivism. Amongst them, there were about thirty women mystics; of whom Akkamahadevi was considered to the beacon of light. Basavanna, Allamaprabhu, and Channabasavanna were the three highly decorated and distinguished names that were repeated highlighted in Veerashaiva faith. It was them who created the Veerashaiva renaissance in the 12th century. All most all the Sharanas expressed their views and opinions on society, religion, God, men, and women in a varied ways in the form of Vachanas, the collection of which is called Vachanashastra.
During 13th and 14th centuries, there were eminent poets like Harihara, Raghavanka, and Bhima Kavi who contributed to Veerashaiva literature. In the first of half of 15th century, the great emperor Immadi Proud Devaraya of Vijayanagar Empire played a significant role in promoting Veerashaivism by sheltering number of Veerashaiva saints who undertook the task of editing and arranging the Vachanas of the 12th century and appending commentary to them. Among them, Kallumathada Prabhudev, Karasthala Nagideva, Saptakvyada Gurubasava, and Chamarasa were more prominent. Chamarasa who wrote "Prabhulinga Leele" was an unsurpassed poet in Kannada literature. Lakkanna Dandanayaka and Jakkanna Dandanayaka who were the two ministers of Proud Devaraya were scholars and patrons of Veerashaiva literature. At the end of 15th century, a great luminary by the name Tontada Siddalinga Shivayogi walked on the path of Veerashaivism. He promoted and propagated Veerashaivism in every part of the country and composed hundreds of Vachanas, the collection of his Vachanas is known as " Shatsthala Jnana Saramruta." He was a great mystic philosopher of his time and created the second blizzard of Vachana literature. He revived Veerashaivism and also established several Mathas in various parts and made his disciples as Swamijis of those religious centers. Shanmukha Shivayogi of the 17th century, with his magnanimous personality, was able to create dynamism in Veerashaiva religion. He was a Swamiji of Matha at Jevergi and composed notable Vachanas with " Akhandeswara " as insignia. He may be considered as being the last Vachana creator in the spirit and tradition of 12th century.
Many other Sharanas like Shiavaganaprasad Mahadevaiah, Gummalapurada Siddalinga, Muruge Shantaveera, Guluru Siddaveeranna Odeyar, Sampadanaye Channanjedeva, Nijaguna Shivayogi, Muppin Shadakshari, Sarpabhooshana Shivayogi, and Balaleela Mahanta Shivayogi and also many others have contributed to Veerashaivism in recent years.
This is the most knotty and intriguing question of determining the time that Veerashaivism was found and the Prophet(s) who was (were) responsible for that. There are, however, two schools of thoughts on this issue; (a) the things handed down traditionally, and (b) based on historical evidences substantiated by literature.
The things handed down traditionally from generation to generation are based on some traditions, which have become a kind of gospel truth. According to these traditions, the Veerashaiva religion was found long long time ago by five great prophets (Panchacharyas), Revanaradhya or Revanasiddha, Marularadhya or Marulasiddha, Ekoramaradhya, Panditaradhya, and Vishvaradhya that they arose out of five Sthavaralingas of five different places, namely, of Balehonnur and Ujjani (both in Karnatak state), Himavat Kedar(Uttar Pradesh state), Shrishail Mallikarjuna(Andra Pradesh state), and Kashi or Benares (Utter Pradesh state), under different names in different Yugas(ages). These five Acharyas (prophets) are believed to have found five Mathas (Panchapeethas) in five places mentioned above. This tradition is still in practice in Karnatak State that the Acharyas presiding over these Mathas are called Jagadgurus.
According to second school of thought, Basavanna (1105-1167 AD) was the founder of the Veerashaiva faith. This statement is based on the overwhelming evidences recorded in the literature:
1. Palkurike Somaradhya in his work, Gana- Shasta, addresses Basavanna as the spirit of the Shaiva religion and as the first Acharya.
2. Chamarasa (1430 AD) in his Prabhulinga Leele describes Basavanna as the first apostle of the religion.
3. Gururaja Kavi in Gururaja-Charitre makes reference to Basavanna and says ' Who else can permanently establish the Veerashaiva religion on the earth?'
4. Nilakanthacharya in his Aradhyacharitre makes Panditaradhya say,"Who else is there to found and promote the Veerashaiva religion?"
5. On account of Basavanna's death; Maggeya Mayideva (1478 AD) in his Shatakatraya attributes Basavanna as the very incarnation of Veerashaiva religion.
6. Maritontadarya (1560 AD) in his Siddheshvara Purana praises Basavanna as the founder of the Veerashaiva religion.
7. Basavappa Nayaka, the king of Keladi, in his Shiavatattvaratnakara writes that the Basavanna found and promoted the Veerashaiva religion.
There also ample evidence in the Vachanas of Sharanas, who were associated with Basavanna in the 12th century, to support Basavanna was alone responsible for founding the Veerashaiva religion. Allamaprabhu, an eminent Sharana, in one of his Vachanas describes Basavanna as the founder of the religion, and in another Vachana says to Channabasavanna that they both got Linga from Basavanna and hence both belong to the same religion.
If we assume that there was the Veerashaiva religion before Basavanna, why is history silent about it? History speaks of various Hindu religions existing before 12th century but not the Veerashaivism. This must be an indicative of non-existence of Veerashaivism before the 12th century. Besides, if Veerashaivism was in existence before Basavanna's time, then why was not he initiated with Lingadharane? Besides, it is not conceivable that five Acharyas rose out of Sthavaralingas. How humanly is it possible? Why in five different places, and why in five different Yugas? We do not have any solid answers to these questions or a shred of evidence to support these claims except the blind belief handed down from generation to generation.
From the above discussion it is clear, beyond the shadow of doubt, that Sharana Basavanna in the 12th century was the creator of Veerashaiva religion by giving a different shape to then existing form of Shaiva religion mixed with Varnashramadharma. He gave a different turn and form to Shaivism by separating it from the Varnashramadharma and shifting it out of all crudities.
· He borrowed 36 fundamental Tattvas (principles) from the Agamas, he adopted five materials (Vibhuti, Rudrakshi, Teertha which is called as Padodaka, Prasada, and Mantra) of Shiva-worship, and wove them together in a ritualistic chain of Shivapooja.
· He adopted Shivalinga in the form of Istalinga and gave it a definite meaning and made it focal and vital point of the religion.
· He made Jangamas, the peripatetic Gurus, to guide the followers of the religion for explaining and removing the difficulties at any stage of the practice of Shivayoga.
· He found the necessity of Gurus as instructors of the devotees in spiritual matters.
All these above formed the Sadana (practice) of the religion. He made religion a personal affair under the constant guidance of Gurus and occasional instructions of Jangamas. He destroyed the artificial barrier put against women from the privileges of religious life. In the same way, he did away with the inhuman exclusion of a section of the people branded as Sudras from the privileges of religious life. He thereby turned Shaivism into Veerashaivism (Lingayatism) by these far-reaching and astounding changes, which worked like a miracle and changed the socio-religious life of the Hindus of his time. He framed Shatsthala as the technique of Shivayoga on scientific basis. For this stupendous work he started Shivanubhavamantapa or Jnanamantapa for a thorough discussion of the principles. He extended all facilities to the hands of his saintly followers to practice the principles and prove experimentally the practicability and the potency of Shivayoga. In his extraordinary undertaking of this new religious movement, he was specially helped by two extraordinary Sharanas. His nephew, Channabasavanna, the genius that formed the brain of Shivanubhavamantapa, and Allamaprabhu, the matchless Yogin, who demonstrated to the world not only the practicability and efficacy of Shivayoga but also its unfailing power of raising the practitioner to the heights of Yogic attainments. All this was done in a short period of about nine years. The new movement spread like wild fire and attracted streams of followers. In a short time, the new community became very populous by conversion and admission into the new fold of all new comers. In order to popularize the new movement, Basavanna followed the wise example of the prophet, Buddha. He preached and conveyed the principles of the new movement to the mass in the language of the common people, Kannada, the local Dravidian language, which thus became the best medium and means of getting the message across.
Current practice of Veerashaivism is the fusion of both concepts - Mathas and Jagadgurus are very much part of the religion (Panchapeetha concept), and Veerashaiva community is composed of various sections of the society with the practice of wearing Istalinga (Basavanna's concept).
A religion may be defined as a specific system of belief or worship in the Superhuman Power, yet unknown, that governs activities of the universe and everything else in it, in an effort to attain eternal peace and happiness. The system of belief connotes doctrines of the relationships between Man, Universe, and God. It explains how God creates, sustains, and destroys or reabsorbs the Universe. The religion also explains and lays down the systematic procedure and proper methods in worship of God by human beings in their pursuit of eternal happiness and everlasting peace. Thus a religion has two components; (1) the philosophy and (2) the practice. The former explains the work of God with the Universe and the latter the way of attaining the grace of God for liberation and final beatitude. The practice of any religion is usually based on its philosophy. Hence philosophy and practice are not mutually exclusive. The Veerashaiva religion has both parts distinctly built into it and therefore, Veerashaivism is a distinct religion.
The philosophy of Veerashaiva religion is monotheism and is called Shaktivishistadvaita, which is adopted and improved upon Kashmere Shivadvaita. Though adopted from the Kashmere School of Shaivism it is given the distinct name of Shaktivishistadvaita to give the prominence to Shakti, the Power or Energy of Lord, Param Shiv (the Parabrahman), living in intimate union with Him - Shiva and Shakti are inseparably one. According to Vedanta, three positive qualities, Sat, Chit and Anand are attributed to Parabrahman, which are well expressed in terms of (a) Lord is conscious of his being, (b) shining, and (c) enjoying independently of anything else. Shiv is the supreme entity. He is the all-knowing, all-doing, all-sustaining being called Prakasha, the serene Lord, all-pervading indivisible and infinite. His nature is primarily of twofold - an innate aspect in which He pervades the universe and a transcendental aspect in which He is beyond all universal manifestations. He is the origin and source of the universe. The vibration of the perfect subconscious is His Shakti, through which He holds and visualizes the entire universe.
Thus (1) the Param Shiv, the Parabrahman is Prakasharupa, (2) He is self-consciousness (Atma Vimarsha, Vimarsha or Paramarsha), (3) this Vimarsha is his Shakti, and (4) Ichha, Jnana, Kriya (will, knowledge, action) are the modes or aspects of that Vimarsha. The consciousness of self-luminosity is also called Chaitanya, and therefore Prakasha is the most distinctive aspect of Shiv.
The Veerashaivism is Agamic system. Agamas (Principles or doctrines of religion) are also Shivagamas that form the scriptures of Shaivism. The Agamas of three kinds - Shivagamas, Shaktagamas, and Vaishnavagamas - based on the highest worship of deity Shiv or Shakti, or Vishnu. The Agamas also known as Tantras and practically no difference between Shivagamas and Shaktagamas as both believed to have been delivered by Shiv to his consort Parvati. But generally Shivagamas are called Agamas, and Shaktagamas are called Tantras. The Shivagamas are 28 in number. Only eight or nine are available: Chandrajnanagama, Kamikagama, Karangama, Kiranagama, Parameshvaragama, Suksmagama, Suprebhedagama, some parts of Rauravagama, and Vatulagama. Besides these main Agamas, there are many secondary Agamas known as Upagamas, enumerated in various Shaiva works: Shivatattvaratnakara, an encyclopedic Sanskrit work of Keladi Basavaraj; the Vivekachintamani, a Kannada encyclopedic work of Nijaguna Shivayogi; and the introduction of Shivajnanasiddhiyar of Shaiva Siddhanta scholar Nallaswami Pillai.
There are three burning questions arise in regard to Agamas;(a) the age of the Agamas, (b) the origin and source of the Agamas, and (c) the contents of the Agamas.
(a) The age of the Agamas: The age of the Agamas can be inferred from the references made to them in various works, which we are not going to discuss here. But it can be said that Agamas are even older than Bhagavad-Gita or Puranas. Hence, one can conclude that the beginning of Agamas go back to the time of Aranyakas or Upanishads, which have been considered to have been written about 3000 years ago.
(b) The origin and source of the Agamas: There are three theories regarding the origin and source of the Agamas. According to the first theory, Agamas arose out of Brahmanas and developed in the same way as the Upanishads. Thus Agamas appear to have been based on Vedas. The second theory expounds that the Agamas interpret the Upanishads and elaborate their teachings. According to this view, the Upanishads present the "quest" by limiting to Charya, Kriya, and Yoga whereas the Agamas present the "attainment" by including the above three as well as Jnana. The third theory is revolutionary which states that Agamas are an independent literature and in no way connected with Vedas. According to this view, it is suggested that the present Agamas are based on the Tamil originals altogether different from the Vedic literature, the literature associated with Aryans. The Vedic literature consists of four Vedas, the Rig-Veda, parts of which were originally composed prior to 1000 BC, the Samaveda, Yajurveda, and Atharvaveda are of later dates. Rig-Veda consists of 1028 hymns dedicated to the Gods of Aryans and was composed by various families of priests. They are not narrations of events but provide incidental evidence on the life of the Aryans.
The first two theories are not different even though they seem to be superficially reasonable. However, the distinction between the Agamas and the Vedas is clear when difference between their teaching is noted:
· In Vedic religion, all Vedic rites and rituals are concerned with the performance of sacrifices where as in Agamic religion, all rites are worship of deity.
· The Vedic deities were the forces or powers of nature and Vedic religion was a system of conciliation of those Nature powers by means of sacrifices and offering into fire that regarded as the mouth of deities. In contrast, the Agamic deities were personal deities (Shiv, Shakti or Vishnu) who control the forces of nature. The fire was an intermediary between the worshipper and worshipped in Vedic religion where as the worshipper was himself was an intermediary between worshipper and the deity in Agamic religion, who was in direct communication with the deity.
· In Vedic religion, offerings were consumed by the deities through their mouth, the fire, while in Agamic religion, the deity consumed only subtle portion and the worshipper consumed the remaining in form of Prasada or grace of God.
· The Vedic religion was a polytheistic religion, where different deities were worshipped for different purposes while the Agamic religion was a monotheistic religion, where only one deity was worshipped for all purposes.
· The Vedas consist of Mantras addressed to different deities and recited during the performance of the sacrifices, where as Agamas contain prayers consisting of various names of a deity and salutations addressed to that deity.
· The Vedic Gods being the forces of nature had no physical representation required by the worshipper, while the Agamic deities were represented by means of visible emblem or image.
· The Vaidikas performed sacrifices on the banks of rivers or groves of trees in temporary shed or Mantapas erected for this purpose, while Agamikas worshipped Gods in temples - the houses of the Lords.
· Vedic rites were restricted to only small portion of the public - Brahmins, which led to the concept of Varnashramadharma, where as all were considered equal in the eyes of Agamic Gods.
· Vedas shut their door to women, while Agamas treated men and women alike.
· Yoga philosophy and Yogic practices are part of Agamic religion, which are absent in Vedic religion.
· Diksha, given by the Guru is only important sacrament in Agamic religion, where as there are sixteen sacraments (Sanskaras) in Vedic religion.
The Agamas also differ from the Upanishads fundamentally. The Agamas are scriptures of Bhakti path and the Upanishads are the scriptures of Jnana path. The former is an easy path and the latter is a difficult one.
Then, what is the source of the Agamas? Based on the various writings, it appears that the pre-Aryan Dravidian culture and religion was the source of the Agamas. The culture and religion persisted and descended from generation to generation in spite of the struggle and conflict between Dravidians and the Aryans, until they ultimately prevailed and were embodied in the Agamas.
(c) The contents of the Agamas: The Agamas are divided into four parts or quarters called Padas - Charya, Kriya, Yoga, and Jnana. The Kriyapada embraces all acts from establishing temples to installing idols.
During the earlier period, the Agamas of three main Agamic doctrines (Shaiva, Shakta, and Vaishnava) invoke the concept of Supreme Real Being (Brahman) or the Absolute of the Upanishads. This Supreme Being is Shiv according to Shaivagamas, Shakti according to Shaktagamas, and Narayana according to Vaishnavagamas. In earlier times, the female Goddesses (Shaktis) - Kali, the wife of Shiv, and Lakshmi, the wife of Vishnu- were assigned all cosmic functions and were made prominent. But little later, the male Gods Shiv and Vishnu became more prominent than their Shaktis, and hence Shaktis became merely as their handmaids. In spite their differences, all the three Agamic schools maintain three Tattvas (ultimate realities). They are, (a) The Supreme Being with male or female aspect, (b) The class of individual souls, and (c) The objective universe as real. These three Tattvas are given different names in these three different schools with differing terminology and similar mutual relations. Then, what are the commonalties?
· The Agamas do not regard the world as a false show. They oppose and demolish the Mayavada (theory of illusion) of the Vedanta by arguing that "If the world is an illusion of the cosmic being, the effected world will be hollow unreality, then how can be the world, which is established to be really existing by all methods of proofs, be a false transmutation of consciousness?"
· Intense devotion or sincere Bhakti to the deity is expressed in the worship of images of the deities. The images are anthropomorphic or only symbols or some formal representation of the deities, which are really formless or all-formed.
· Temple building and image making. It also gave rise to devotional lyric poetry full of poetic images, music, singing, dancing, and gesticulation. All these were considered to be different ways of expressing devotion to the deities as they always accompany the worship of images in temples.
The practice of religion is attainment of Moksha. Religious practices are based on the philosophy and are the reverse process of the evolution of human life. The practice takes the individual soul back to the original source.
The practice of Veerashaiva religion is expressed precisely by the definition of the word "Veerashaiva." As a result of the activity of Adimaya, Jiva gets affected by three taints (Mala) and covers over by five sheaths or by six if we include Maya: Jiva becomes constricted as a result of Anavamala; is covered by five sheaths as a result of Mayamala; and retains the vague craving as a results of Karmamala - contracted form of Shiv's Sarvakrtrattvashakti- that produces tendencies of mind and Karmasanskara. Jiva has to be born as a human being in order to free from Karmasanskara either by enjoying the fruits of Karma or destroying the accumulated Karma. That he/she can do by undergoing a course of strict spiritual disciple and living a holy life of devotion to the Godhead that forms the practice of religion. Through this, Jiva can get rid off three taints and five sheaths.
Dharmacharana means the Jiva that adopts and follows the Veerashaiva or Lingayat religion. The Veerashaiva or Lingayata is the one who practices (1) Ashtavarna, (2) Panchacharas, and (3) Shatsthala. Of theses, Shatsthala is all-comprehensive and covers everything that the religious practice offers including the ground rules. The Panchachara and Ashtavarna are subsidiaries and auxiliaries to the Ashtavarna, which is the very life and the soul of Veerashaiva spiritual, discipline and practice. From that point, Veerashaiva religion stands as a distinct religion from all other religions of the world. The Shastshthalachara is the procedure based on six Linga with six Shaktis in the form of Kalas, the six Angas with six-fold Bhaktis, and the method of offering all things to deity before they are enjoyed by the devotee himself/herself during the worldly life.
The Veerashaivism has eight basic principles:
· The first basic principle - Religion is as necessary for human beings as food is.
· The second basic principle – Religion is a personal affair, the affair of Jiva - male or female - in order that it may be free from the trammels of the ever-recurring births and deaths and miseries thereof.
· The third basic principle – Equal opportunities for both sexes, male or female. This principle is very fundamental, and argues that males and females are created in the images of God, and hence both are equally the children of God.
· The fourth basic principle – Universal brotherhood of man in matters of religion. The true religion keeps its door open to all people without any distinction.
· The fifth basic principle – Life in this world is no way incongruous with the practice of true religion. It is not necessary for any one go to the forest, sacrificing everything, to attain Moksha. Trough Kayaka one can attain Moksha.
· The sixth basic principle – The simplicity and suitability of practice - the self-realization can be achieved by simple and definite techniques of Shatsthala, through which Jiva can advance, as far as one wishes, up the spiritual ladder.
· The seventh basic principle – Ahimsa or non-injury. All beings are entitled to the same treatment of happiness and kindness in life. Hence, it is Papa (injustice) to harm any creatures.
· The eighth basic principle – Unity of thought and action or perfect coordination between knowing and doing. This is the most significant aspect of the Veerashaivism. The knowledge without action is stagnation while action without knowledge and insight is disaster.
Veerashaiva tenets are simple and straightforward. Although these tenets are in existence for thousands of years, they have been rewritten by Sharanas in the 12th century so that they can be understood and practiced by common man/woman. These tenets are:
· Initiation: Born to a Veerashaiva family will not make the child a Veerashaiva. A Guru should initiate the child by providing Istalinga, the symbol of Shiva. Later Guru or a Jangama will instill Bhakti and provide instructions to worship the Istalinga. From that day on Istalinga is worn on the body and is worshiped as the savior throughout his/her life.
· Compassion to all living beings: Everyone should be compassionate to all living beings including the animal world.
· Equality for every one: Soul is part of God. Without soul one cannot survive. Every person is part of God because his/her soul is part of God. Any discrimination is considered to be an act against God. Thus Veerashaivism prohibits discrimination based on sex, color, creed, national origin, age, richness, status or any other means. Most importantly, Veerashaivism treats men and women as equal.
· Forbids killing, stealing, lying, and praising oneself, and scolding or humiliating others: These are instruments of the materialistic world. They obstruct persons finding the true path of salvation or eternal happiness and to realize God.
· Kayaka (honest work) for earning the daily livings: Every able-bodied person must engage in work. Work must be beneficial to the welfare of the community. Through legitimate work, one should earn his/her livings. Veerashaivism discourages accepting money not earned by honest work, and also forbids a person to become burdensome to the community. It provides dignity by encouraging everyone to engage in Kayaka or honest work.
· Dasoha as a means to care for the under privileged persons: Excess wealth should be distributed for caring the less fortunate and the disabled. Donating to Dasoha is a way of caring for the under privileged persons.
· Panchacharas: These are five codes of conduct. They should be practiced by every Veerashaiva (see the Panchachara section for details).
· Shatsthala – Six Phases/States/Paths
· Ashtavarna – Eight Aids towards Faith
· Panchacharas - Five Modes of conduct
There is no question that the 12th century Sharana Channabasavanna was the brainchild and the founder of the Shatsthala, but its origin can be traced back to Agamas. In Kamikagama, which is considered to be the first Agama, the term Veerashaiva was described along with the concept of Istalinga. There is also a reference to Istalinga in Yogajagama, according to which, one should not receive Prasada without Istalinga. Kiranagama also places emphasis on such view.
Even though, the main principles of Veerashaivism, such as, Istalinga and Pranalinga. are mentioned in different Agamas, the other Agamas like Vatul, Vir, Chandrajnana, Mantanga, and Parameshvara Agamas are important in explaining the detailed concept of Shatsthala. The explanation of Shatsthala found, for example, in Parameshvaratantra is fundamentally different from that of Sharanas of 12th century. Let us explore some of the doctrines of Parameshvaratantra:
According to Parameshvaratantra, the devotion to Shiv is very essential. Those who sincerely wish to adopt the path of Shatsthala must be pretty sure of Shivabhakti in their hearts. It is clearly stated that the Shatsthala should not be extended to those who do not believe in Shiv. Shatsthala is composed of six phases or steps or stages. In the first place, the "Sthala" means a phase (stage) of the soul in its endeavor towards its active identity with the Supreme. The Bhakta Sthala is the first Sthala, where the soul conceives the Guru, Jangama, and Linga as separate entities and worships them in order of precedence. In the second Sthala, Maheshvara Sthala, the seeker worships Guru, Linga, and Jangama. In the third Sthala, Prasadi Sthala, seeker considers all creation as the gift of God and therefore returns what he/she has received to Him through Jangama and considers everything he/she receives is as His gift. The soul that has reached this stage is known as Prasadi. In the fifth Sthala, Pranalingi Sthala, the soul sees Linga in everything and everything in Linga. At this stage, the soul is called Sharana. The Aikya Sthala is the last stage, where soul is merged into Shiv by leaving the physical body.
Various needs of earthly life are grouped into six classes:
· Thirst, Hunger (biological needs)
· Affection, Grief ( psychological needs)
· Birth, Death ( Physical needs)
These are the six enemies (three impurities) that can be conquered through the practice of Shatsthala. The devotee has to be free from these impurities in order to fit for the Shatsthala, which is accomplished through the guidance of an able spiritual-master (Guru). Parameshvaratantra of initiation (Diksha) also describes the detail qualities of both devotee and Guru, when the Guru places his hand on the devotee's head, and further gives minute details relating to the ceremony of Istalinga and Pranalinga. Ashtavarnas are explained as eight aids to Shatsthala. Besides this external bliss, the creation of the world by Brahma is explained at length; the living and non-living creation, the relation between the Jiva (individual) and the Atma (soul), and the indivisible unity of duality principle Shiv-Shakti.
The Shivagamas describe all forms of Shaivism placing the emphasis on worship of Stavaralinga (static Linga) without loosing the sight of the superiority of Veerashaivism over other sects. They also give details about the construction of the Linga and materials required for it. Within the framework of Agamas, devotion to Shiv, visiting to Shiv temples, wearing of Linga, kindness towards all creatures, and consecrated fire are said to be the aids to salvation. It should be noted that the consecrated fire is used in the Veerashaiva initiation ceremony.
The Veerashaivism evolved in the 12th century is quite distinct from that found in the Agamas. The Veerashaivism, as stated in the Agamas, gives the importance to the doctrine of Karma, enjoys the impact of other Shaiva sects and of Vedic religion, and proposes Jnanayoga as the best means of liberation. In addition, Agamas did not treat Veerashaivism as an independent religion but as one of the components of Shaivism. Though, the Agamic Veerashaivism includes Ashtavarnas, the elimination of castes, the purification from impurities, the importance of Guru, Linga, and Jangama, and several other similar desirables, it needed to be refined to suit the needs of the 12th century's changing society. Hence, Basavanna and other 12th century Sharanas took the Veerashaivism of the Agamic and revised it. The Anubhava Mantapa gave a definite shape and interpretation to this new way of living.
Along with the evolution of Veerashaivism, the evolution of concept of Shatsthala was also unavoidable. Basavanna understood Shatsthala in one way - a process with various stages to be reached one after another in succession. Channabasavanna, on the other hand, refuting this affirmed that a soul can reach its salvation in any one stage, differing radically from his uncle, reinterpreted the Shatsthala in the following way:
Bhakta Sthala (the phase of devotional worship)
In this stage, the Bhakta worships the Istalinga with firm faith. Devotion found on faith is the characteristic of the "way of spiritual life." All the activities of the Bhakta are energized by love of God. All enjoyments are considered to be graces from God. All daily activities of Bhakta's life along with pure intention, constant self-offering, his whole self including his body, become transformed into a spiritual reality. Through this practice, active life permeated with true devotion becomes truly divine. Thus, the chief characteristic of Bhakta Sthala is devotion.
Maheshvara Sthala (the phase of ordeals and temptations)
The next step onwards is the Maheshvara Sthala. The devotee who seeks perfection goes from devotion to firm faith in God and hence becomes a Maheshvara. Faith is nothing but a constant love for God; one loves God to the extent of firmly believing in Him and placing his entire trust in Him. He receives and accepts everything whole heatedly, whether it is sweet or bitter taste of life, as a gift from the God. The faith of a Maheshvara is enlightened through the spiritual-master, which is the image of God. Hence, devotee listens to the words of spiritual-master as if they are the words of God. The master therefore becomes Gurulinga.
Prasadi Sthala (the recognition of Lord's presence in all aspects of life, including the senses of devotee)
In this Sthala, everything becomes God's gift to him. The soul, which loves God with invincible faith, becomes God's favored child. In turn, God pours onto him/her everlasting grace that becomes a vehicle for devotee to understand God. This knowledge, as a result of worship of God, becomes Shivalinga. Devotee now understands all things as God's and grows humility towards Him. This is the hallmark of the spiritual person. Now the devotee has taken a new turn towards a greater spirituality leading to the stage known as Prasadi.
Pranalingi Sthala (the cleansing of the inner being)
Prayer in action is the achievement of the soul in this stage. In this phase, the aspirant enters a new relation with God-Linga to enrich his/her spiritual growth. Here the devotee realizes that all progress in the universe is due to the Prime Mover - the Jangama-Linga. Such realization gives a new spiritual dimension to all his/her activities. Thus, his/her action itself becomes prayer.
Sharana Sthala (a phase of semi-enlightenment, when the devotee knows that he/she is not contained in his mortal being and sees the light of the Lord in himself)
In this stage, the soul finds delight and security in the service of God. Soul acquires intimacy with God and becomes faithful servant of God. Anything and everything the soul hears is the sweet voice of God. Life is no more burden to it but a delight. This overwhelming spiritual joy in the presence of God is considered to be the perfection that the soul attains.
Aikya Sthala (the dissolution of the self in the God)
The Aikya Sthala is the last and highest stage a soul can reach - ultimate union with the Supreme. In this stage, the mind and heart of an individual move in consistence with those of Mahalinga - the Supreme. The soul's activities, like, desire, affection, and thoughts are now only echoes of God's desire, affection, and thoughts. The creator and the created -the individual and its source - are in perfect mutual harmony. Now the beloved soul is merged with the Master, they are not two but one. This complete union is the achievement of the soul in this stage.
The following Vachana gives a beautiful and concise description of Shatsthala.
"If he is a Bhakta, he should be
Free from the desires of mind and body.
If he is Maheshvara, he should avoid
Another's wealth, Another's concern, another's wife.
If he is a Prasadi, he should forget
The pleasures of taste and Keep his body pure.
If he is a Pranalingi, he should renounce
His body and merge with Linga.
He who enjoys, not self, but Him
In everything is a Lingaikya…"
" We are not immortal, we have not drunk nectar, we have not taken the elixir of life, this is our last chance for achieving salvation." Therefore, any stage should be a Shatsthala stage. In these words, Channabasavanna has explained the secret of Shatsthala to Basavanna. It appears that this is a new realization on Channabasavanna's part. According to him, a novice in the path of Shatsthala need not begin from the Bhakta Sthala, the first Sthala. Everyone is in a creative stage of spiritual growth - it is from there, he/she has to proceed forward. Channabasavanna questioned, "Even though the nature of beginners might differ, why should they give up their existing stage and regress back to the Bhakta stage?" By his own experience he knew for sure that one should start from any stage and achieve the rest.
Ashtavarna are the eight shields or protective coverings of the devotee against assailment of Maya. They coxswain him/her safely towards bliss after his/her life in this physical world. They also shield him/her from attachment towards worldly life. They guide him/her towards enduring spiritual joy through spiritual disciplines and exercises. These eight shields are Guru, Linga, Jangama, Vibhuti or Bhasma, Rudrakshi, Padodaka, Prasada, and Mantra, which are the details of aids for an individual devotee to attain his/her spiritual goals.
Guru (religious teacher)
Guru is the first shield of soul against the onslaughts of Maya. In Veerashaivism, all prayers are offered to Istalinga and devotion is directed to Istalinga. All the religious activities are centered on Istalinga, and hence, Istalinga is considered to be the very foundation of the entire spiritual course and self-discipline. But Guru takes precedence over the Istalinga within the concept of Ashtavarna due to various reasons:
· Guru is the one who initiates the Diksha on the devotee and hence gives the spiritual birth.
· Guru is the one who teaches the principles of the religion, explains the inner meaning of the religious practices, and guides towards taking the correct path towards Mukti.
· Guru is the one who explains the differences between the Veerashaivism and other religions.
· Guru is the one who gives the necessary instructions and training to get through difficult course of spiritual discipline.
· Guru is the one who has gained a vast knowledge of the world by his own experience.
· Guru is the living example of Istalinga-worship and spiritual discipline.
· Guru is the preceptor and a living role model in every way.
· Guru, according to Veerashaivism, considered as being itinerant Shiv.
Due to these reasons, Guru is often or occasionally worshipped in every Veerashaiva household.
Linga (amorphous form of Shiv and also the individual soul)
Here the Linga refers to the Istalinga worn by the Veerashaivas on their bodies. Istalinga is a physical entity and is the third of the first three modifications of Dhanalinga. Istalinga is the reason that devotee desires to worship and hence the Istalinga is worshipped everyday. The Linga is given to the person at the time of birth and worn on the body all the time until the death. The person never should lose the Linga, because losing Linga is losing his/her life. The real worship of Linga begins after the Diksha ceremony performed by the Guru, who initiates the person into the religious rights. However, the daily worship of Linga before the Diksha may be informal but necessary that makes the wearer and worshipper conscious of his duty to the Supreme Godhead. It makes him/her cognizant of the essentiality of religious life and spiritual discipline on the way towards Mukti.
The worship of Istalinga is not worship of image because image is merely a substitute for a particular deity. The Istalinga is considered not an image of God but God himself. Devote is also the modification of God and is called Anga. Thus the Anga and Linga being duality of the God, the worshipper and worshipped are face to face with each other during the worship. The Anga views Linga as his/her associate, friend and protector by living with and in him making him part of himself. Anga is the microcosm of the macrocosmic Linga. Anga by its virtue is trapped in the physical body and to be free form it, Anga must worship Linga, the superior modification but identical with Dhanalinga, the macrocosmic soul. The Anga, the worshipper fixes his/her attention on the Linga, the macrocosmic soul, to become Samarasa (one) with him ultimately.
In the early stage, the Linga is the Sarupa (having the same form) of the devotee. He is, therefore, his intimate friend and everlasting companion. In this stage, the devotee is in Savikalpakasamadhi. Through the steady worship of Linga, devotee gradually acquires the higher ideal of Samarasya in the advanced stage. In this stage the devotee is in Nirvakalpaksamadhi.
The Linga is the representation of the devotee in meditative posture. Thus Linga and Anga are it and reverse of itself of the same and the same thing. Anga, being microcosmic with all the earthly limitations confined to the physical body realizes that the Linga is macrocosmic free from limitations of earthly desires. If Anga desires to attain Linga stage then it must develop in itself a power of Bhakti, the modification of God's Shakti (power). Without Bhakti, sincere devotion and attachment to the Supreme, nothing is possible.
The real Linga in the body exists in various forms in six centers of the nerve, which, according to Rajayoga, are known as Adharas of Shakti. The worship of those Lingas to transform the human power into a vast spiritual and all-reaching spiritual power constitutes what is known as "the real worship." This is most difficult and not an easy task in the beginning. However, it is possible by realizing that He is in himself/herself and with a constant devotion to the God. This constant devotion is perfected through Istalinga. Hence, the Anga must be disciplined to think that Highest in him/her and in Istalinga, and start worship of Istalinga realizing that he/she is Shiva and Shiva is Jiva(soul).
Jangama (wandering religious teacher)
Jangama is the third Ashtavarna that is peculiar to Veerashaivism and such concept found no where in other religions. Jangama is a nomadic Jeevanmukha travelling around in the country for guiding the devotees in their quest for spiritual and cultural exercises. Hence, he is considered to be equal to Guru as well to the Godhead himself, the Linga.
The goal of the soul is the liberation from its earthly limitations. The liberated soul therefore possesses unlimited knowledge; it can transcend time and see the past, the present, and the future. The person with liberated soul has neither fear nor sorrow or pride nor anger. He/She has no desire to possess family, property, wealth, or anything of that nature, which are considered to be commodities of ordinary persons. In essence, the liberated soul has no desire. Such persons are Jangamas. The spell of Maya is nothing but soul's activities of desire, knowing, and doing. Jangamas are completely out of Maya's spell and hence require no place to live in or things to enjoy. They travel around selflessly and reveal the ultimate truths of religion. They tender valuable guidance regarding spiritual discipline and religious exercises and hence they are indispensable.
Jangamas are very distinct in their nature. If the body perishes at the liberation it means that all the fruits of the past actions have been experienced. If it does not, it follows that there are some acts still left whose fruits the body has yet to experience. Thus, there are two kinds of liberated souls; (1) those that leave the body at liberation, and (2) those that continue with the body even after liberation. The Jivanmukta Jangamas belong to the second kind. These Jangamas possess infinite love for God and they shower that love onto not liberated souls.
Jangamas are unique in the sense that they occupy dual position in the society. They are human beings and God in one and are hence are useful to human beings in both capacities. They are the embodiment of God, and hence demonstrate to us the existence of God. They are human beings like us, and hence we can understand and communicate with them. We can derive the meaning of true love, true knowledge, and true action. Their very presence brings us joy and sense of uplift in us. They are Shivasharanas (saints) as well as men of endless spiritual powers. Therefore, they are the best objects of our worship. Worship of them is considered to be equal to the worship of God. This is why the Jangama is the third shield and is to be worshipped as reverentially as Linga and Guru. In actuality, no distinction is justified between the first three Ashtavarnas, the Guru, Linga, and Jangama
Vibhuti or Bhasma (holy ash)
Vibhuti, also known as Bhasma, is the fourth Ashtavarna and Bhasmadharana (wearing of Bhasma) is the fourth religious exercise. All ritualistic exercises serve twofold purpose; (a) love for God, and (b) adherence to religious way of life. Every religion has a set of religious exercises for its followers. These make the followers distinct and identifiable. The sacred ash (Bhasma) firstly reminds Veerashaivas of their love for God, and secondly, their power to reduce their six-fold enemies, like, the desire of the world, anger, avarice, infatuation, pride, and hatred to ash.
Rudrakshi (holy beads)
The Rudrakshi is the fifth Avarna. What is Rudrakshi and why is it necessary in Linga Pooja? The origin of Rudrakshi, as described in Puranik (ancient or old) story, goes like this: Shiv, while meditating and concentrating on the three castles of Tripurasura, the tears trickle down from eyes and became solid balls that are known to be called as Rudrakshi (falling from the eyes of Rudra). The Shiv is the great matchless Yogin. Thus, the Rudrakshi is the reminder of Shiv's fixed and yogic unchanging gaze and the attainment of perfection in yogic meditation.
Padodaka (holy water)
Padodaka is the sixth Ashtavarana, with which the Linga, the feet of the Guru and the Jangama are washed. Water is the most abundant substance on this planet and is the most important of the five elements (water, air fire, earth, and space, where as, earth, air, fire, and water are the Greek four elements). All washing requires water without which nothing can be cleaned. Water is a physical thing that is used to clean only the physical objects. However, external cleanness of the body makes mind clean and fresh. Padodaka is the symbolic of washing off three taints (knowing, desiring, and doing) attached to the soul. Guru and Jangama being Jivanmuktas are free from these taints. And thus, their Padodaka is the embodiment of the washings of the taints. The Padodaka is thus intending to produce psychological effect on the devotee. When devotee takes the Padodaka from his/her Guru or Jangama he/she is reminded of striving to be free from three taints. The Padodaka is not merely an ordinary water like Teertha, but it is a symbolical water that has the cleansing power of soul, making it free from three taints just like the ordinary water that has the power of washing the physical body making it free from physical dirt.
Prasada (holy food)
Prasada is the seventh shield of Ashtavarna, which means grace of God or grace of superior being. In most religions, the Prasada has taken to mean the favor or grace of God shown to the devotee. However, in Veerashaiva religion it is more than this - it is the Prasada in a real sense that leads to the peace of mind by the grace of God. Impure mind is the root of all evils. If the mind is kept clean through the Prasada, all evils will disappear. Hence, real Prasada means keeping mind clean and calm. The purity and equanimity of the mind are responsible for bringing purity and freedom to the soul, as the mind is the vehicle and organ of the soul. The Anga in the third stage of development as a devotee becomes Prasadi by attainment of Prasada.
To obtain the grace of God, the devotee has to think that whatever he/she does, like eating, seeing, hearing, and enjoying, are owing to the God. Therefore, whatever he/she does is God's Prasada. He/she should address all that he/she does to God before taking or doing the same for himself/herself. When the mind is tainted, by doing this it gradually develops the sense of purity and calmness leading towards a gradual liberation of the soul from Karmasanskara and attaining freedom from further transmigration in stepping towards the final bliss.
This entire quest is possible during the Linga Pooja. However, the practical component of Prasada is that of Guru and Jangama, whose Prasada the Bhakta (devotee) receives. Trough such a practice the Bhakta learns the secret of Prasada and the proper method of addressing God. Thus, the Prasada of Guru, Linga, and Jangama is an exercise of critical importance in the spiritual development.
Mantra (holy chant)
The last and the eighth shield is Mantra that contains the elements of Mantrayoga, the practice of Mantra, is so important and indispensable in the practice of religion.
The word Mantra is derived from two roots; Man to think and Antre to save or protect - means that which protects him/her who realizes and mutters it. The Mantra is thought movement that is propelled by and expressed in speech. It is not merely sound or letters but it is a form in which Shakti (energy) expresses itself.
A Mantra consists of certain letters arranged in a definite sequence representative of sound. To produce the designated effect, the Mantra must be recited in the proper manner according to both sound and rhythm - for these reasons, a Mantra ceases to be such when translated into merely being a sentence.
Mantra is not the same thing as prayer, though some Mantras also constitute prayers.
The only Mantra of Veerashaivas is " Na-ma-ha Shiv-aya" and is called Panchaksharimantra on account of its having five syllables. The Mantra is expressive of Shiv. Hence, the Mantra expresses the Highest Principle and devotee's devotion. The Mantra also expresses the identity of Jiva or Anga (the devotee). Thus Namah expresses Anga that humbly surrenders itself by his salutation to Shiv; Aya expresses the Samarasya or essential identity of Shiv and leads to Jiva to the ultimate end. Therefore, the Mantrajapa leads to the development of Jiva's Power within him and to the gradual expansion of his/her soul, which in the end restores the Anga to its natural and original condition, namely Shivatatva. The practice of Mantra leads to Moksha or salvation. With OM prefixed to it the Mantra becomes Shadaksharamanta (of six syllables).
Om is made up of O, U, and M. These three express the trinity powers, Ichha, Jnana, and Kriya. According to Vedanta, these in turn are identical with Sat, Chit, and Agandya, the three positive qualities of Parabrahman. The three powers are the three creative energies. The energy (Nada) springs from Shiva-Shakti-Tattva and solidifies itself as the creative power of the Lord manifesting in the trinity of creative energies. Om then stands for the most general aspect of that which is source of all, namely, Parashiva.
The Panchaksharimantra (Namah Shivaya) is but an extends from of Om. That is to say, Om elaborates or explicates itself in the form of Namah Shivaya. Thus Om and Namah Shivaya are one and the same and express Parashiva. The six syllables of the Mantra (Om Namah Shivaya) are considered to be identical with six Lingas and six Chakras. This Na is Acharalinga in the Adharachakra; M is Gurulinga in the Swadishtanachakra; Shi is Shivalinga in the Manipurachakra; Va is Charalinga in the Anahatchakra; Ya is Prasadalinga in the Vishudhichakra; and lastly Om is Mahalinga in the Ajnachakra. So it is said that Bhijumantra roused the Shaktis in the form of six Kalas of the Shakti. The Kalas thus roused and ultimately developed into primeval power of Parashiva and the result of which is Samarasya. Hence the practice of Mantra is laid down for the attainment of Moksha.
The practice of Mantra is said to be superior to the practices laid down by Varnashrama. The Mantrayoga of Veerashaiva religion thus rejects other Mantras of the Shakta religion, and puts a greater emphasis only on Mantra , by the practice of which the Moksha (highest end of the human beings) can be attained. No doubt that by practice of different Shakta Mantras a verity kind of success may be attained that may lead to the paths deviating from the straight path of Moksha. Hence, Veerashaivas have retained only one Mantra, which enables them to achieve the expansion of the self into ultimate attainment with Parashiva or Linga, called Lingangasamarasya.
The ordinary beings in their daily living encounter three needs; (a) body needs, (b) mind needs, and (c) social needs. The first two associated with as an individual, and the third one with as the member of the society. The body needs are food, sleep, sheathing, and reproductive. The first three are essential for the protection of the body, and the last one for the propagation of the race. The mental needs are recreation and knowledge of which the former is for the relief of hard work and the latter is for enrichment of the mind. Social needs are loving and hating, giving and taking, submitting and dominating, and solitude and blending. Acceptance of God and close relationship with him invokes another type of need that is called religious needs.
Panchacharas are the five codes of conduct (ethics) for an individual in the society. Thus, they are intending to convey the principles of religion and religious conduct. These Panchacharas are Shivachara, Lingachara, Sadachara, Bruthyachara, and Ganachara. Therefore, they are intended to enrich Veerashaivas with devotion, sanctimony, brotherhood, religious cooperation, honest life, and non-injury to other living creatures, camaraderie, and fellowship.
Shivachara requires Veerashaivas to acknowledge the Shiv as the only one God and he is Parabrahman - the supreme God. Whatever the devotional acts are performed, such as, prayers, meditations, inner thoughts, they must always be about Shiv.
Lingachara is the worship of Shiv in the form of Istalinga - the amorphous representation of Shiv. The Anga (devotee) must remain faithful to Istalinga throughout his/her life and must perform daily worship in order to elevate himself/herself to the status of worship of Pranalinga and Bhavalinga, which are the higher modifications of Shiv.
Sadachara consists of the following components:
· Religious conduct and right moral character - nothing else like wealth, professional difference, status in the community, etc.,- should be only the criteria to interact with the society.
· The Veerashaiva should earn living by doing honest work.
· The surplus wealth should be distributed to other needy persons.
· He/she should invite Jangama, who moves around to propagate the religion and preaches the right way to practice religion.
· Veerashaivas should respect one another and consider and treat everyone as equal.
Bruthyachara is the display of devotion. In this context, Veerashaiva is considered as the servant of the society. Veerashaivas should maintain complete humility and reverence towards Istalinga and Shiv. He/she also should show respect and humility towards Guru, who is the source of spiritual guidance and religious practice, and towards Jangama, who is the wandering religious preacher. They should exercise the mutual respect, modesty, and attitude of service towards other Veerashaivas, as they are considered to be the children of the same God Shiv. In addition, the Bruthyachara dictates that one should be kind to other creatures and treat them with equal compassion.
Ganachara is devotee's behavior towards community as a whole. He/she should not entertain the ill treatment of the supreme Godhead, injustice among men, and cruelty towards other living creatures. As a member of the community, he/she should always strive for the betterment of community and its welfare.
Sapthachara - Seven Modes of Purification Sapthachara
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The concept of God in Veerashaivism is very interesting and its synthesis is even more fascinating. The Istalinga worn by the Veerashaivas on their body is technically a miniature of the Sthavaralinga worshipped in the temples. The Sthavaralinga is also known as Shivalinga that is considered to be the amorphous representation of Shiv based on the inner meaning that will be explained later in this section.
The Istalinga is made up of light gray slate stone coated with fine durable thick black paste of cow dung ashes mixed with some suitable oil to withstand wear and tear. Sometime it is made up of ashes mixed with clarified butter. In any event, the coating is called Kanti (covering). The most intriguing question arises whether Istalinga is as much an image as a Sthavaralinga and its worship is as much as image worship of Sthavaralinga. Istalinga is not an image or Pratika of Shiv and the worship is not Pratikopamana. It is Shiv himself and its worship is Ahangrahopasana.
What is the Linga? And what is the meaning of the symbol? There are few ways to explain the meaning and the symbol of Linga.
1. Linga as Arthabrahma or phenomenal manifestation
Linga is the amorphous representation of Shiv and can be regarded as the highest emblem of Shiv because of its least anthrophomorphic nature. Shiv, Parabrahman, is the highest Divine Principle in intimate union with Divine Power, the Parashakti. The only positive qualities of this Divine Principle are Shat, Chit, and Anand. He is conscious of Himself i.e. He has Atmavimarsha. He is the cosmic Purusha (person) but is Nirakar - has no particular form and has no distinguishing mark. He is therefore inconceivable. "God cannot be known by the mind or the physical senses" is consensus of all the sages. It is in this sense Herbert Spensor speaks of God as " Unknown and unknowable." What he means is that Deity per se is "Unknown and Unknowable." John Fiasco further argues that "Deity is unknowable to the extent of it is not being manifested to consciousness through the phenomenal world knowable but knowable in order of its phenomenal manifestations: knowable in a symbolic way as the power of being rhythmic life of the universe; knowable as eternal source of moral law." If we accept this, then Shiv is inconceivable. But if He is not conceived, how can he be worshipped? Yet religious mind craving for eternal happiness cannot be satisfied without worship and cannot do without worship. He, therefore, requires some kind of representation or symbol of God. Without some concrete symbol of God, God would be a formless abstraction devoid of meaning to him/her. Hence it for those, who cannot digest abstract ideas of God, temples are built and images representing Gods in different powers and attributes are consecrated. Whatever may be said against images in the temples, rituals, and ceremonies, the fact remains that they are indispensable at a certain stage of the spiritual evolution life.
Nirakar Shiv is Amurtha (formless) in his indistinct condition, and is Murtha or Sakar in his manifest condition –manifest in the form of universe. Shiv assumes eight-fold forms and is, therefore, called as Ashtamurthi. Then the Linga represents the whole universe appearing hemispherical placed on something. The Linga, the amorphous symbol of Shiv, thus, represents the Murtha form of Shiv. Hence, the Linga signifies Alinga or Shiv that has no special form or mark. The circular base with round semi-spherical top placed on it fits the description of the idea of Murthavthva.
2. Linga as Shabdabrahma
Shivaparabrahman is the cosmic Purusha having Atmavimarsha. He first vibrates in his Leele (play or amusement) towards creation. The vibration is Nada (a loud roar), the first expression as Nama or name. From his Nada proceeds Bindu (dot), i.e. the form. The couplet Nama and Rupa or Nada and Bindu are known as Onkara or Pravana. The Bindu is the disc-like Peetha and Nada is the line that supervenes the Peetha. The line stands on the Bindu like a cylinder with a rounded top. All this forms the Linga.
3. Linga as the Visvarupa
Shivaparabrahman has no particular form but is all-formed. He is, therefore, called Visvarupa. He is the creator of the Universe and assumes all forms in the Universe. He is hidden in all creatures, and pervades all and forms inner souls of all. He is said to have a thousand heads, a thousand eyes, and a thousand feet. He has hands and feet in all directions. The semi-spherical top that supervenes the circular base represents this description of cosmic Purusha, with whom His devotees identify Shiv. The round top on the circular base really consists of thousands of heads, each of the size of a point. The sides of the cylindrical figure represents equally thousands of heads, eyes, and faces in all directions. The semi-spherical top, resembling the visible horizon, is truly symbolical of the universe that surrounds the earth on all sides. Though the symbol has no eyes and feet, or eyes and ears, it has thousands of hands and feet, heads, eyes, and ears in all directions, just as a circle has no face all around but it has faces in all directions at every point of the circumference. Thus the Linga is the closest possible representation of such formless or all-formed God Shiv.
It is customary in nature that all classes of things in universe must have different shapes and forms. The so-called "Gods class" must have different shapes and forms, though nobody knows what those shapes and forms should be. It is only the fancy of the human beings that has endowed Gods with some anthrophomorphic forms. But there is no proof of that. Nonetheless, it is conceivable that Gods have shapes and forms different from those of human beings as human beings have shapes and forms different from those of other animals, worms, insects, etc.
4. Linga as Phallus
This is vulgar representation of the Linga and should not even be entertained. But for the sake of completeness, we shall give the brief account of this.
This is a kind of misunderstanding regarding Shivalinga or the symbol that represents Shiv. Religious philosophy and almost all scholars of religion believe that the Linga be the Phallus of Shiv. This deep-rooted prejudice has been long persisted based on the following five different considerations.
(a) There was phallic worship among the primitive peoples and Dravidians could not be an exception to it. (b) The misinterpretation of the word "Shishradeva" that occurs twice in Rigveda. (c) The meaning of Linga as phallus given in lexicons. (d) The shape in general resembles phallus (erect membrum virile). And (e) various verses of the Shakta Tantras about sex worship.
(a) The phallus worship among primitive peoples has been well established. Westrop has collected information about the existence of this practice in several countries including Greece, Egypt, Rome, Syria, ancient America, and etc. The worship of Linga was not confined to India alone, but was prevailing in Asia and Europe, and also in Egypt. The phallus worship of some primitive peoples has no bearing or the connection with Dravidian worship of Shivalingam. Because some primitive peoples have worshipped the phallus, it does not necessarily mean that Dravidians must also have worshipped the same. The cause of this deep-rooted prejudice and plain misunderstanding can be attributed to the assumption that the Dravidians, at the time of the Aryan invasion of India, were merely primitive people with no civilization of their own. On the contrary, Dravidians were the most ancient people of all other peoples of the world with more advanced human civilization. So to speak, they were ahead of all others in developing human civilization. They had a much deeper insight into the nature of the Almighty as the creator, protector, and destroyer of the universe. They had already formulated their own notions of Godhead as being self-subsistent, omniscient, and benevolent, possessed of greatness and wondrous power (Shakti). With such an insight, is it in any way thinkable that they should identify Godhead with phallus? Can it be even possible that they should attribute such powers of Divinity and greatness to the phallus? The universe, they must have thought, was after the creator and the image of the God was reflected in the spherical universe and was represented by it. To all outward appearance the universe is a hemi-spherical thing bounded by the circular horizon and placed on something. This idea has been later expressed by the Puranas that the world-globe is balanced on the hood of Adishesha, the king of the snake-world. And the Linga with circular base and the semi-spherical top placed on the circular base represents the universe. This was the idea of the Dravidians about their Godhead.
(b) A proof of phallic worship is sought from the word Shishradeva occurring twice in Rigveda. The interpretation of the word as "Those, whose God was phallus" seems to be due to the obsession of phallic worship that might have existed before. One thing is remarkable that there are only two hymns in which the word Shishradeva occurs. If it were the phallic worship of the non-Aryans, the Aryans who took every occasion to condemn their enemies, would not have failed to speak of their phallus worship as many times and in as many ways as possible and further condemn them for the debased form of worship in all possible ways. Besides these two deceptive and misleading references, there is no mention of phallic worship anywhere else in the Vedic, Brahmanic, and Upanishadic literature. Hence Shishradeva cannot be a proof of phallic worship.
(c) The phallus is one of the meanings of Linga from lexicons. However, it is not the primary and prominent meaning of Linga but merely secondary. The primary sense of the word is " A mark or sign." Therefore, it must be concluded that the lexicographic secondary sense of Linga in Shivalinga as the male organ is due to merely to the preconceived prejudice of phallic worship of some peoples in ancient times.
(d) The shape of the Linga resembles an erect membrum virile is also a mistaken notion. In small-sized Shivalingas the top is always semi-spherical, but in many large-Lingas the top is generally elongated, as the proportionately magnified top does not look well and also to give goodly shape and appearance to a Sthavaralinga. The peculiar shape of the Linga at Gudimallan, Kalattur, and Kudumiyamlai had rather misled Gopinathrao to believe and conclude that the Linga is only the phallus. This is merely prejudice and the result of the obsession of the idea of phallic worship, when in fact innumerable Shivalingas everywhere else in the land are of common shape having not even slightest resemblance to the phallus. The shape of only three Lingas mentioned above should not contaminate inner meaning and the basic idea of the Shivalinga by submission to tasteless idea that all Lingas are phallic in shape.
(e) Lastly, the various verses of the Tantras about sex-worship and sexual interpretation of the form of Linga are simply due to degenerate Shaktas, who failed to understand the significance of Shrichakra and Chakrapooja of Shakta faith and rituals and thereby becoming victims of corrupt practices. The advocates of the worship of Shakti, residing in Kula or perineum, misunderstood the meaning of Kundalini or the universal power lying in a static condition with downward face (Adhomukhi) and cooped up there. The power is to be roused and put into a Dyuamic condition gradually to be raised (Urthmamukhi) by stages to union with the Universal consciousness (Atmavimarsha). The inability of the followers to understand the meaning and the significance of the Shakta rituals led to the debased and perverted forms of Shakti worship.
Swami Vivekananda was the first one to point out that Linga is not the phallus. According to him, the worship of Shivalinga originated from the famous Lingam in the Atharva Veda Sanhita sung in praise of Yupasthambha, the sacrificial post. In the hymn a description is found about the beginningless and endless Sthambha or Skambha and it is shown that the said Skambha is put in place of the eternal Brahman. Afterwards, the sacrificial fire, the smoke, ashes and the flames, the Soma plant, the ox used to carry it on its back, and the words for Vedic sacrifice gave place to Shiva’s body. His yellow matted hair, his blue throat, and the bull were added later. The Yupasthambha gave place to the Shivalingam and was raised to high Devahood of Shri Shankar. In Atharva Veda, the sacrificial cows are praised with the attributes of the Brahman. In the Linga Puranas, the hymn is expanded in the form of stories meant to establish the glory of the great Sthambha and superiority of Mahadeva. Later Swami Vivekananda says that the explanation of Shivalingam as Phallic emblem began in India in her most thoughtless and degraded times.
If the word Linga and Alinga are properly understood there can be no shadows of doubt that Linga does not mean phallus but merely a mark or symbol. Hence, the Linga is the amorphous representation of Shiv and the least anthrophomorphic as maintained by Kumar-swami.
The Agamas consist of four parts (Padas) – Yogapada, Charyapada, Kriyapada, and Jnanapada. The modes of worship corresponding to these four Padas respectively are Saha-marga, Dasa-marga, Satputra-marga, and San-marga.
Saha-marga is based on the Yogapada of the Divyagama (the Divine Shaiva scriptures). Here the worshipper behaves towards the God as an associate or a friend. If Istalinga is worshipped as the image (Pratika) of Shiv, then it is called Pratikopasan, and if Istalinga is worshipped as Shiv himself then it is called Ahangrahopasana. The Istalinga or the Linga in its gross form is Parashiva himself, and the Upasaka (devotee) is the microcosm of the macrocosmic soul. In Ahangrahopasana, the Upasaka is brought face to face with Parashiva. In Pratikopasan, on the other hand, the Upasaka is not face to face with Parashiva.
In the scheme of Shatsthala philosophy of the Veerashaiva religion, the Linga (Sugunaparashiva) and Anga (the devotee of a human being) are only the twofold manifestations of Parashiva. The Linga is Upasya form and Anga is the Upasaka form of Parashiva. Similarly, Parashakti becomes twofold also; Kala associated with Linga and Bhakti associated with Anga or the individual soul. In this context, the Anga with Bhakti becomes the smallest possible model or the very abridged form of Shiv and his Shakti. The Upasana is, therefore, Ahangrahopasana, because the Linga and Anga are one and the same. Linga is threefold; (1) Bhavalinga (Linga the ideal corresponding to Karana-sharir of the devotee), (2) Pranalinga (Linga the vital or mental corresponding to Shukshma-sharir of the devotee), and (3) Istalinga (Linga the gross or physical corresponding to Sthula-sharir of the devotee. Istalinga is connected with Pranalinga and Bhavalinga. The devotee starts with the Upasana of Istalinga and reaches the Pranalinga and Bhavalinga by stages with the idea of being a part and parcel of Parashiva through all the stages, though hidden in the human form.
The Saha-marga contemplated by Veerashaivism is pure subjective worship of Lord. Here the Jiva is slowly disentangled from the lusts of flesh and its bondage to corruption and joined on to the Lord. The Jiva is taught to discern for itself and move on to being one with the Lord. For achieving this end, the entire Yogapada of Agamas is devoted to explain the practical bearing on the daily conduct.
The Dasa-marga or the path of servant following the master is the discipline of Charya-pada. In consists of searching for the Lord in an objective Prapancha by praising Him, singing His glories, and extending the honor and hospitality to His genuine servants.
The Satputra-marga or the path of son serving the will of his father takes a higher step of worshipping the Lord under a mental Pratika formed in the mind in accordance with the description in the Kriyapada of the divine Agamas. Worshipper behaves towards the Lord as son does towards his father with a combination of reverence and affection. In this stage, the rites of the purification of Stula-sharir of the worshipper and the symbolical and the mental imaging of the Shukshma-Sharir of the same are added on to the externals connected with the worship of the Lord under material Pratika(image)
Lastly, the San-marga is the highest mode of worship of the Lord and is considered to be the final stage or step in Veerashaiva religion. In this stage, subjective worship of the Lord is further inoculated in spirit and in truth for attainment of the condition known as Sayujya or Samarasya. The subject and the object become indistinguishable and the Lord alone is seen in place of His Prapancha. This is jnana-marg where the devotee becomes possessed of Sahaja-samadhi. The Charya and Kriya disciplines become temporary and Yoga and Jnana disciplines become real or paramarthika. The Saha-marga is a stage preparatory to the San-marga, in which the objective conduct of the worshipper in Saha-marga is eliminated. In the Saha-marga, the worshipper starts with the idea of being similar (svarupa) to the Lord and attains Sarupya which by the San-marga expands into Linganga-Samarasya, as it is called technically in Veerashaivism.
Thus, the goals of the four modes are Salokya of the Das-marga, Samipya of Satput-marga, Sarupaya of the Saha-marga, and Sayujya of San-marga. Hence, the Istalinga is not the Pratika of the Lord but the Lord himself and its worship is not that of Pratika or image worship.
As far as the image-worship at home of Veerashaivas is concerned, it has no scriptural sanction behind it. It is merely an imitation of the image worship. There is no need of image-worship for Veerashaivas as every man, woman, and child have Istalinga that is to be worn on the body. The Istalinga is worshipped throughout the life of the child till to death. When death occurs the Istalinga is buried with the wearer. To lose Istalinga is to lose one's life in the literal sense of the word.
Lingadharane consists of two words, Linga and dharane. Linga is the symbol of Parashiva - the Supreme God, and dharane means tying. Hence, Lingadharane means tying of the symbol of God to Anga or to the body of a person.
Basavanna said that the God's head is above the sky, his feet are below the bottom and his body encompasses the universe. This concept suggests that God cannot be seen by ordinary means. Akkamahadevi also echoed the same by saying that she has fallen in love with the formless person who is the most beautiful. Thus, the Sharanas of the twelfth century have suggested that the God, Parashiva is in fact formless. If so, why do we need a symbol for Parashiva?
The need for a symbol of God and the necessity for Lingadharane have been thoroughly discussed by the Sharanas, which is known as the Sampadane of Siddaramaiah. Siddaramaiah was an accomplished Yogi who had an eye in his forehead with powers to burn everything in its sight. He was called a Karmayogi because of his works. Allamaprabhu also known as Allama, on his way to the city of Kalyana went to Siddaramaiah’s place and saw his devotees constructing a lake. Allama inquired about Siddaramaiah and in that process, he ridiculed Siddaramaiah. His devotees were upset and one of his devotees ran to Siddaramaiah’s house and reported that a Sanyasi(Jangama) is ridiculing his work. Siddaramaiah not knowing that the Sanyasi is in fact Allama was very angry with the Sanyasi and thought that he could win him by burning him. So he opened up his third eye. The fire that came out of his eye fell on to Allama’s feet as though it was asking for his forgiveness. Siddaramaiah felt ashamed of his anger and asked the forgiveness of Allama. Allama asked Siddaramaiah to accompany him to Kalyana and promised him that many of his questions about God will be answered at that time. They both continued their journey to Kalyana. The significance of Lingadharane is expressed in the following allegory.
In Kalyana, Siddaramaiah was very much impressed with Sharanas and their way of life. Everyone use to do Kayaka (work to perform for earning their daily living) and Kayaka had become their way of life. Siddaramaiah spent several days in Kalyana listening to the discussions of Sharanas in the great hall of Anubhavamantapa. His desire to learn more about himself, God, and the relationship between humans and the God increased day by day.
One day, the Sharanas expressed an annoyance with Siddaramaiah, who was entering the great hall, for not having his Istalinga. Allama, Channabasavanna, Basavanna and other Sharanas discussed the importance of Istalinga in the following way.
God, on his own accord took a form and for his amusement he split himself into two, namely, Linga and Anga. Linga became the divine and Anga became the devotee worshipping the Linga. Anga’s desire is to get back and unite with Linga. This state is called the Linganga Samarasya or the eternal bliss. However, this unity is a difficult one because the Anga forgets its mission due to illusions(Maya). Because of illusions, the body accumulates three types of impurities, namely, Anava, Manava, and Karmika. These three impurities correspond to the triple body - the gross, the subtle, and the casual. In Veerashaiva terminology, they are Thyaganga, Bhoganga and Yoganga. The Guru by giving the Istalinga and teaching the ways to follow during the ceremony changes these impurities to the triple Linga namely, Prana, Bhava and Ista.
The discussion removed the vale of ignorance that prevented Siddaramaiah to realize and experience the union with God. Therefore, Lingadharane is the process in which Anga is given a Linga to remind it that it is a part of Linga and it should concentrate in reuniting with the Linga to enjoy the eternal happiness.
Siddaramaiah was overjoyed with this discussion and requested for Lingadharane ceremony. Allama asks Channabasavanna to perform the ceremony. Siddaramaiah upon receiving his Istalinga praised Channabasavanna and accepted him as his Guru, who gave a form to the formless, and brought it down to his palm.
Lingadharane ceremony can be performed at any age. The Veerashaivas usually perform this ceremony when the child is about 3 days to 8 days old. The child receives Istalinga from the family Guru that is worshipped until age 8 -11 years. Between the ages of 8 and 11 years, the child receives instructions for Linga worship from the Guru. From then on, the child wears the Linga and it is worshipped as his/her own Istalinga. Basavanna received his Istalinga as a child. However, most other Sharanas including Allamaprabhu received their Istalinga when they were adults from Basavanna.
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The Anubhavamantapa, as we know it today, use to be called Shivanubhavamantapa in twelfth century, is considered to be glorious institution of Basavanna and other Sharanas, which might be considered as a birth place as well as the cradle for Veerashaivism. In all its mighty existence, it was a religious institution organized by Basavanna and presided over by the great Jangama Allamaprabhu. It was a religious academy with such a dynamic force, the kind of which never existed before and has never even tried to exist ever since. Basavanna brought it to life. Allamaprabhu chaired it and a great many Sharanas of that time participated in the discussions. So, we owe a lot to this institution for being the source of flood of Veerashaivas literature in Kannada that transmuted in the form of Vachanas literature. As a result of the discussions held there, the doctrines of the Veerashaiva religion was formulated. Above all, Shatsthala philosophy was emerged -the feature of faith in Veerashaiva religion - that itself is the most remarkable piece of work contributed to the Veerashaiva literature. The Sharanas, who participated in the discussions about Shatsthala in the Anubhavamantapa are called Shatsthalabrahmis (means one who has attained Brahman by means of Shatsthala), and the first and foremost of them was Channabasavanna, who is known as Shatsthalakarta or the creator of Shatsthala. The term Shatshalabrahmi is meant to be distinctive designation for Basavanna and other Sharanas of that time. This term, however, nowhere is found in Veerashaiva literature in connection with Panchacharyas.
If the Channabasavanna was the formulator of the Shatsthala philosophy-the black hole of Veerashaiva religion - then why should Basavanna be called as the originator of Veerashaiva religion? It is true that Basavanna was not the creator of Shatsthala, but he was much more. He was the leader of the entire movement, in whose service, the Shatsthala philosophy was formulated. It was Basavanna who led the revolt against the tyranny of Varnashrama. It was under his leadership every scheme was planned and executed. It was Basavanna who convinced Allamaprabhu to lead the Anubhavamantapa. It was Basavanna who got other Sharanas and people associated them to carry out their religious belief successfully till the end. It was Basavanna who exemplified the path of devotion by his own perfect pietistic conduct. It was Basavanna who showed the people the practical way to apply the philosophy of Shatsthala in every day life. Hence, the unique credit of having showed and brought religion from temple to common household, goes to Basavanna alone and not to anyone else.
Twelfth century was not only the birth century of Veerashaivism but also of Vachanas. Basavanna popularized his new movement by conveying the principles of religion in the language of the people, Kannada, which thus became the best means and medium of carrying conviction to them. The result was the Vachanas of Sharanas of Shivanubhavamantapa, who every day sent messages to the people by means of Vachanas or Sayings. Thus the new religion fiercely penetrated every day life of men and women.
Basavanna preached and practiced the practical aspect of religion and thereby set an example to the mass. He educated the mass through his Vachanas. Vachanas of Basavanna and the Sharanas of 12th century precisely emanate a socio-religious conduct of life derived from their life experience. There was a similar growth of Vachana literature in the post-Basavanna period. Later writer of the new community wrote works after works in Kannada and this period that followed Basavanna goes by the name of Veerashaiva literary period in the history of Kannada literature. Thus the Vachanashastra of Basavanna and Sharanas of 12th century as well as later centuries is the basic scripture of Veerashaivism.
Vachanas are the greatest asset to Veerashaivism. They are like holy bible to Veerashaivas. The Vachanas are like Upanishads in poetic fervor and profundity of meaning. They are short sentences, simple telling, soul-stirring, and very effective in delivering their messages. They have unparalleled freshness and vigor. They are the greatest "literary treasure." Vachanas are original in nature. Their style and nature undoubtedly reflect on the intricate personalities of Sharanas along with their view of men, society, nature, and God. Even though, the Vachana scriptures existed since the 12th century, only recently they are being appreciated immensely by scholars and laymen alike. They appeal to scholars because of their profound thoughts and to laymen because of their simplistic expression. Their meaning and value never diminish in any century since they tackle social, philosophical, religious, and economical problems of the society. For example, demand for equality and women education was in fact put forward and practiced by Basavanna in the 12th century.
Vachanas, now a days, are being transformed into music of variety kind and are often sung in various gatherings, like, literacy conferences, marriages, society meetings, social gathering, and various auspicious occasions. They are now considered to be unique addition to Kannada literature. Lately, widespread admiration and interest in Vachana scriptures are displayed in Veerashaiva community. Mere interest or admiration without the application of their truth to life is as good as a monkey in the flower garden.
Vachanas teach moral values, how to behave in the society, judgement on rights or wrongs, relationship between men and women, and God and men, preach religious practices, convey the message of dignity of labor, insist on the equality for men and women, do not tolerate injury to other creature, display the meaning of heaven and hell, show the path of final beatitude, and so on and so on. There is no limit to their power of conveying meanings and messages.
The Vachanakaras ( Authors of the Vachanas) have never used their true name but always insignia. One can recognize the Sharana (author) by his/her insignia. Following is the list of creators and their insignia.
- Basavanna Kudala Sangama Deva
- Allamaprabhu Guheshwara
- Akkamahadevi Channamallikarjuna
- Channabasavanna Kudala Chennasangama
- Ambigara Chowdayya Ambigara Chowdayya
- Aydakki Marayya Amareshvara
- Urilinga Peddi Urilinga-priya-Vishveshvara
- Hadapada Appanna Basava-priya-ChannaBasavanna
- Havinahala Kallayya Mahalinga Kalleshwara Deva
- Madivala Machayya Kalideva
- Muktayyakka Ajaganna
- Jedara Dasimayya Ramanatha
- Shanmukha Shivayogi Akhandeswara
- Tontada Siddalingheshvara Guru Shivasiddhesvara
( If any more, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org)
There was a great religious movement in Karnatak State in the 12th century, which led to the revitalization and reformation of the Shaivism of the Hindu religion. Undoubtedly there was much deterioration in the Hindu philosophy and its impact on the existing society. There was a greater need for new way of thinking and new directions. As a result of this, Veerashaivism or Lingayatism was born. The grand leader of this movement was Basavanna, the Prime Minister of Bijjala, who ruled over a large territory of the present day Karnatak and the Andhra State, of which the Kalyana was the capital. He had unsurpassed vision of uniting people without any barriers of caste or sub-caste. The society, he visualized, was the one advocated by Mahatma Gandhi 800 years later, without any distinction between man and man, based on either caste or wealth or status in the society. Underlying principle of his movement was "Work is worship". Everyone is required to work daily to earn his/her living. His philosophy spread like a wild fire all over India within a short period of time. Saints from all over India gathered round Basavanna by accepting his tenets and philosophy of life.
There used to be regular discourses in a meeting-hall called 'Anubhavamantapa' and in them Allamaprabhu (also known as Prabhudev or Allama) assumed the leading role. In fact, he was regarded as the most intellectual of all the mystics of the time and hence naturally presided over these discourses. The main theme of these discussions was the Shatsthala philosophy, or the six steps towards pilgrimage to God. Doubts and difficulties were raised in the meetings regarding the correct interpretation and practical implementation of the new ideas. Allamaprabhu would answer these with appropriate interpretations. All these doubts and replies have come to be known as Sunyasampadane in the form of Vachanas - short epigrammatic sayings, prose in form but poetry in spirit, which were widely used as the medium by Veerashaiva saints for propagating spiritual knowledge and essence of correct pathway to a final salvation.
This work, however, remained incomplete largely owing to the disturbing conditions following the resignation of Basavanna as Prime Minister. The Sanatanists, (i.e., the old or orthodox people) resented the social reforms advocated by these saints, particularly by Basavanna. The saints, therefore, had to disperse away to different regions for safety, and in consequence the Vachana literature was scattered, and it is believed that some of it has gotton lost. Meanwhile, their followers had to fight the Sanatanists all the way and in the confusion that followed this break-up, nobody could think of collecting all the Vachanas in a systematic manner. It was only during the reign of Proud Devaraya, or Devaraya II (1419-1447 AD) in the Vijayanagar Empire that Veerashaiva literature was revived and systematically collected. Gulura Siddhaveeresvara compiled the Sunyasampadane at that time. There are 21 chapters in it, containing more than 1500 Vachanas. The Sunyasampadane occupies a very high place in the whole range of Indian literature. Its form, content and manner of presentation are new and interesting, although the philosophy behind the essential values of life embodied in it is not always easy to grasp.
The Sunyasampadane is one of the most important documents of the Veerashaiva philosophy and faith and, for that very reason perhaps, one of the most difficult and at times baffling. The exact meaning of the title of this compilation presents the first of many problems the student has to encounter on his way; the exact sense in which one must take the word Sunya seems to vary from one context to another. However, the broad sense of the concept itself is not entirely beyond comprehension, especially if we compare it with its variants in Buddhism of the Madhyamika School. Here are some extracts from the Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics.
"Voidness (Sunyata) is neither a principle immanent in things nor is it nothingness. On the contrary, it is the character of what exists, of the dharmas. Things are void because they are originated; voidness = origination, void =originated. Existence (samsara) is an intricate succession of momentary things, or dharmas, which have not in themselves any raison d'etre, and which cannot exist substantially by the power of their causes; for these causes are dharmas of the same nature, which do not exist in themselves. As it is said, 'From dharmas, like a magical show (mayopama), arise dharmas like a magical show'. We should say, 'From contingent phenomena arise contingent phenomena."
"From an absolute point of view (paramarthatas), there is no difference (nanabhava) among things and among the characters of things. Things are void (Sunya), like the daughter of a barren woman; characters are void, like the beauty of this unreal daughter. Things are void because there is no real origination of things—if no origination, no destruction, an eternal in-existence. There is no difference between existence (samsara) and nirvana: 'not being produced (anutpanna), not being destroyed, things are from the beginning quiescent (adisanta); they are really, naturally (prakrtya) in nirvana (parinirvrta)".
"The world, according to the Buddhists, is an aggregate of conditions or relations. Things come into existence in virtue of these relations or conditions. There are infinite kinds of relations, such as the relation of substance and quality, part and whole, cause and effect, etc. Taking the relation of substance and quality, we find that the substance exists only in relation to its qualities, and the latter exists only in relation to the former."
There is, however, a substantial and very crucial difference between the Veerashaiva concept of Sunya and the Buddhist, on the one hand, and between the Veerashaiva concept and the Vedantic, on the other.
Nagarjuna (2nd century AD), the founder of the Sunyavada School, describes Sunya and Sunyata in Madhyamika Karika. He calls 'Sunyata' a tattva, essential principle. According to him, 'Sunyata' is to be realized by oneself; in it the phenomenal world (Prapancha) has ceased; it is free from obstruction (anirodha), it has no origination (anutpadam), no destruction (anucchedam), no everlasting continuation (asasvatam), no unity (anekartham), no coming (anagamam) and no going (anirgamam). It is the same as the twelve-linked chain of causation (Pratityasamutpada). The real state of Sunyata (Dharmata) is like Nirvana, which is beyond the reach of thought or language. It is absolute.
From the above extracts it is clear that the 'Sunya' or 'Sunyata' of the Madhyamika Buddhists is the highest principle and is beyond the power of cognition, like the Brahman of the Upanishads. Buddhists of all schools assert that this universe is unreal; imaginary and false, that there is nothing permanent and real, and that existence (samsara) is a complex process of Dharmas which do not themselves exist and resemble the delusion of magic (mayopama) or the reflection in a mirror (pratibimbopama). All Dharmas are intimately bound up with cause and effect. So existence is unreal like the city of the Gandharvas or the son of the barren woman (Vandhyaputra). The soul (Atman) is also not real. It is nothing but a complex of transitory elements (Skandhas) which do not exist in themselves but are void (Sunya). The existence of Isa, the creator of the Universe, is also not accepted since the universe is not real.
The Advaita Vedanta of Sankaracharya and the Veerashaiva Sharanas call the Highest Principle 'Sunya'. But there is a fundamental difference between them in the interpretation of the word. The Sunya or Sunyata of the Buddhists is the absolute and ultimate principle, but it is impermanent (asasvata), whereas that of the Advaita Vedanta and Veerashaiva Sharanas is permanent (sasvata), eternal (nitya) and real (satya). The Advaita Vedanta agrees with the Buddhists and accept the theory of illusion (Maya.), whereas the Veerashaiva Sharanas believe the world, or phenomena, (samsara) to be real and evolved by a regular and orderly process. In the beginning, there was Shiv, alone, in a state of complete void (Sarva-Sunya) and without support (Niralamba). He was known as the Brahma without taint (Niranjana Brahma). His consciousness (nenahu) was known as the power indicated by the letter 'Om' which was pure (Niranjana Onkara Shakti). Then evolved the Sunya Linga. This is the first stage in the evolution. The Sunya Linga was also known as the Brahma without parts (Niskala Brahma). Then the Mahalinga was evolved from it. From Mahalinga, Sadashiv of the five faces came into existence. From the five faces of Sadashiv, the five Sadakhyas arose, and from them the five elements, viz., earth, water, light, air and ether. From his eyes and mind the sun and the moon, and from his hidden face (gopya-makha) the Atman were evolved. The five elements, the sun, the moon and the Atman formed his eight forms. The universe, thus evolved from Sadashiv, will be reabsorbed in him in the reverse order. The motive for this twofold process is none other than his sport (Leele).
According to the Veerashaiva Sharanas, 'Sunya' or 'Sunyata' is not unreal. It is the Absolute, the Infinite. In the description of the Absolute, most of the qualities of Sunyata mentioned by Nagarjuna are found. It is beyond comprehension and description. It is above all positive and negative attributes. It is described as only one (ekam), eternal (nityam), permanent (sasvatam), beyond the pairs of opposites (dvandvatitam), free from the three qualities (trigunarahitam), always a witness of all actions (sarvada-saksi bhutarm), etc. It is perfect and complete in all respects. It is identical with the Upanishadic word 'Purna' found in the following santipatha:
Om Purnamadah Purnamidam Purnatpurnamudacyate
So the Sunya of the Veerashaiva Sharanas is not 'emptiness', but is equivalent to the Upanishadic Parabrahman or Paramatman. The Sharanas accept the individual Atman as identical with Paramatman. Jivatman can become one with Paramatman by passing through a process of six stages called Shatsthalas. It is clear from the above that the word 'Sunya' of the Veerashaiva Sharanas indicates the Infinite, the Absolute, the Brahman or Parabrahman of the Upanishads and is different from the 'Sunya' of the Madhyamika Buddhists. The aim of the Sharana is the attainment (sampadane) of this supreme state (Sunya). The book, which records the achievement of this state by several Sharanas, is called 'Sunyasampadane.'
Veerashaivism believes that the author of all Creation and its Evolution is Shakti or consciousness-force. This Shakti abides in con-substantial union with Shiv. Its evolution starts as soon as Shiva feels conscious of His Being. His sport (Leele) begins as soon as His Awareness of 'I am' comes to Him as a flash. But there has been a state when He was totally unaware of Himself like the waves hidden in the unruffled state of the sea. Like the peacock's limbs and color are inherent in its egg, the entire creation - mobile as well as immobile- is inherent in Parashiva or the Godhead without form. It is indivisible, impart, existence-consciousness-bliss, eternal and perfect. It is at once Naught and Ought, being and non-being. At this stage, Shiva is Sunya, or Absolute Void. Allamaprabhu has described this state in one of his Vachanas:
O Lord, this is the true height of the form
of the undivided Absolute Divine;
It's neither form nor formlessness—
This undivided form of the Absolute;
It's neither time nor timelessness;
It's neither of this nor the other world;
Not touched by sorrow or by joy;
Above all merit and all sin;
It's neither cause nor consequence;
Not bound by duty or by works;
Not worshipped nor the worshipper—
Thus, being beyond all sense of Twain,
He shines—our Guhesvaralinga!
And another Sharana, Tontada Siddhalingesvara, supports this conception:
Before time was or timelessness;
Before the sprout of Nada,
Bindu and Kala showed up;
Ere body or embodied beings were;
Before the soul or Spirit was;
Before there was the slightest sign
of all the moving and unmoving things things —
Ere any of these existed at all,
Thou wert the Absolute, O Lord
Mahalinga Guru Shivasiddhesvara!
To realize this Sunya is the sole aim and endeavor of the Sharana. Allamaprabhu, the great Sharana, through Shivayoga realized what is known as bayalu deha, or Sunya kaya, which may be rendered as ethereal or glorified body. In this deified state, he was able to perform miracles. But his chief concern was to lead other seekers to the same spiritual perfection by revealing to them the meaning of Sunya. Thus Sunyasampadane contains the quintessence of Allamaprabhu's achievement and teaching.
What followed was in the nature of a veritable revolution; and this revolution seems to have arrived in answer to a crying need of the times. Superstition of the most abject sort, some of it inhuman in its practices, was rampant. Religion itself had degenerated into hair-splitting sophistication or another means of exploitation, perpetuating social inequality and ignorance of spiritual truths. The time seemed ripe for a drastic reform when the Sharanas burst upon the world in the 12th century AD, proclaiming new values, denouncing obscurantism and superstition, upholding the essential equality not only of man and man but of man and woman. Work took a new meaning among them and a new dignity, inasmuch as all work was a dedication - a means of sanctification. With the new philosophy, a new kind of literature arose; and the Sunyasampadane is an excellent example of the adaptation of a new literary form to the exposition of a new view of life. The Vachana, formally, is a simple literary genre—mostly a piece of rhythmical prose, addressed to the common person in his/her own language, but capable of great refinement of thought or imaginative beauty.
Such great was the attraction exercised by the new movement that seekers from different, sometimes very distant, parts of the country flocked to Kalyana, where during the reign of Bijjala, the Kalachurya king, his Prime Minister Basavanna had established what is known as the Anubhavamantapa; Somayya came from Andra, Adayya from Saurashtra, and Moligeya Marayya from as far off as Kashmir. There was an unprecedented spiritual activity in Kalyana, which included an enormous deal of discussion at a high level that can be judged from the following Vachanas.
"In this Kalyana, this platter of clay,
Filled with devotion's oil.
The moment Basavanna's light
Had touched religion's wick,
The prowess of Shiv flashed and glowed,
And in the splendor shine
Innumerable devotees . . . "
However, within a few years, the tide begins to subdue. The celebration of an inter-communal marriage released the pent-up wrath of the more conservative elements in the city. Passions ran high; the King himself had to yield to the clamor followed by a period of strife and confusion. The Sharanas had to leave Kalyana, and it is believed that a good deal of the existing stock of Vachana literature was lost some of it irretrievably. It was only during the Vijayanagar Empire that the Veerashaiva religion and culture were revived and the Vachana literature received a new impetus. Veerashaiva scholars now began to collect, collate, edit and annotate Vachanas under the patronage of Jakkanna and Lakkanna Dandesa, ministers of Proud Devaraya, or Devaraya II (1419-1447 AD) and it was at this time that the Sunyasampadane was compiled.
Versions of Sunyasampadane
Four versions of the Sunyasampadane have so far been traced. The idea of making such a compilation seems to have occurred for the first time to Sivagana Prasadi Mahadevayya. His originality lies in arranging the Vachanas in such order as to convey an impression of an actual dialogue or discussion between two or more Sharanas on a set theme, and to show how such discussion was a means to the furtherance of a seeker's progress. That is how he assumed that discussions must have been carried on both at the Anubhavamantapa and elsewhere, where Sharana met Sharana. This first compilation comprises 1012 Vachanas. The next version, containing 1599 Vachanas, was the work of Halageyadeva; while the third was prepared by Gummalapura Siddhalingesa Shivayogi, disciple of Tontada Siddhalingesvara, and contains 1439 Vachanas. Gulura Siddhaveeresvara made the fourth compilation, with 1543 Vachanas, and, while preserving the core and essence of the preceding versions, almost constitutes an independent version. This compilation was first edited and brought out in print by the late Dr. P.G. Halakatti (193O), and later revised and published by Prof. S. S. Bhusanurmath (1958).
The Sunyasampadane contains twenty-one chapters. The book follows a well-conceived plan. Allamaprabhu, its central character or protagonist, is also, literally, its 'moving' spirit. He moves from place to place, wherever he knows there are seekers needing aid and draws them, one by one, towards Kalyana by helping them realize themselves. Thus Kalyana became both a symbol and an actual place whereas the Anubhavamantapa assumed the role of both a sort of academy and a temple.
Abstract of Twenty-one Chapters
The following is the abstract of the twenty-one chapters:
Chapter 1: The compiler announces the purpose of the book as a record of Allamaprabhu's teaching. He mentions the essence of Veerashaiva philosophy and records Allamaprabhu's meeting with Animisa and his initiation.
Chapter 2: Allamaprabhu comforts Muktayakka after her brother's death and helps her to attain realization.
Chapter 3: Siddarama, an eminent yogi, was engaged in constructing tanks and temples and in installing Lingas. Allamaprabhu convinces him that such deeds do not help one to achieve realization and advises him to concentrate on inner discipline. They journey together towards Kalyana to meet Basavanna and other Sharanas.
Chapter 4: Basavanna initiates Channabasavanna. Allamaprabhu arrives at Kalyana with Siddarama.
Chapter 5: Basavanna and other Sharanas, with whom Allamaprabhu discusses the true nature of Bhakti, receive Allamaprabhu and Siddarama.
Chapter 6: Allamaprabhu recognizes the spiritual eminence of Marula Sankaradeva, who was looked upon as an ordinary man by other Sharanas, and acquaints them with his greatness.
Chapter 7: Allamaprabhu expounds to Basavanna and other Sharanas the mystery of time and eternity and shows how Basavanna by his own devotion has realized the identity of Linga and Jangama.
Chapter 8: Allamaprabhu explains the doctrine of devotion and of con-substantial union with Pranalinga to Channabasavanna
Chapter 9: Allamaprabhu shows Madivala Machayya the identity of Guru, Linga and Jangam, and helps him to realize the right knowledge and attain union with the Absolute.
Chapter 10: Channabasavanna initiates Siddarama and invests him with the Istalinga.
Chapter 11: Allamaprabhu is worshipped by the Sharanas.
Chapter 12: Allamaprabhu helps Marayya, who lived on a handful of rice daily gathered by him, to attain realization along with his wife.
Chapter 13: Molige Marayya works a miracle and attains realization with his wife.
Chapter 14: Chandayya, the rope-maker, demonstrates the necessity of dedicated work and attains realization.
Chapter 15: Ghattivalayya works a miracle and attains realization.
Chapter 16: Allamaprabhu bestows grace on Akkamahadevi. She is absorbed in the Absolute at Srishaila.
Chapter 17: Allamaprabhu goes on a tour to sanctify the land and returns to Kalyana.
Chapter 18: Allamaprabhu comes to Basavanna and ascends the throne called "Shunyasinhasana" prepared for him.
Chapter 19: Allamaprabhu's strange feast.
Chapter 20: Allamaprabhu tells Basavanna of the consummation to come for all Sharanas.
Chapter 21: An account of how Allamaprabhu won over Goraksa and, with all the Sharanas was absorbed in the Infinite.
They are many places that are holy to Veerashaivas. Among them, the followings are the most important ones. Veerashaivas, at least once in their lifetime, must visit these places.
Basava Kalyana is in Bidar district in Karnatak State, which was once a capital for Chalukya dynasty and king Bijjala who ruled it in the 12th century. This was the birthplace for Veerashaivism and center for carving its philosophy. This is also the place from which 12th century Sharanas were forced flea in all directions with their physical and mental belongings. There are many monuments dedicating to Sharanas. Some of these are Basaveshvara temple; Basavanna's Mahamane, Parusha Katte, Tripurantaka temple and a lake. Some other famous ones are temples/monuments in honor of Allamaprabhu, Machayya, Siddarama, and Akka Nagamma. In recent years, the Basava Samiti of Bangalore erected the Anubhava Mantapa.
Kudala Sangama, which is in Bagalkot district in Karnatak State, India is a pilgrim place for Veerashaivas. It has gained historical importance on account of Basavanna - originator of Veerashaivism, who was a profound thinker, a great social reformer and a saint. Kudala Sangama being an educational center became Basavanna's learning, a place for divine revelations, and a holy place where he merged with God, the Omnipotent. Here is the confluence of two big rivers Krishna and Malaprabha. The holy Samadhi(Aikya Mantapa) of Basavanna with Linga, which is believed to be self-born (Swayambhu), is situated in the place of confluence. Because of the dam construction at Narayanpura the Mantapa is under water, but is well protected by a cylindrical shape concrete structure. The reservoir is named after Basavanna as Basava Sagar (ocean). How the name '"Kudala Sangama" came about? No body knows for sure. But it appears that Basavanna might have coined the name "Kudala Sangama" as he used "Kudala Sangamadeva" as the insignia for his Vachanas. Since that time, this place has come to be known as Kudala Sangama.
There lies a on the bank of the confluence a temple dedicated to Lord Sangameshvara (presiding deity of the place), worshipped in the form of Linga in the sanctum-sanctorum of the temple. The temple is an ancient monument built in the 11th century AD in Chalukyan style architecture; the outer walls are built in granite and sand-stone, the sanctum-sanctorum is decorated with Dravidian style tower that looks very magnificent attracting the attention of tourists from a quite long distance. It is believed that Basavanna during his early years has worshipped this Linga, the name of which "Kudala Sangamadeva" later he adopted as the insignia for his Vachanas.
From about 8 kms on northeast side of Kudala Sangama stands a shrine called "Tangadagi," meaning " the abode in which the sister lies hidden." The sister here refers to none other than Neelambike, one of the wives of Basavanna. The shrine is built over the place where she was buried in her own "Samadhi." In the premises of the same shrine lies buried another exemplary Sharana, Hadapada Appanna, who was also instrumental in molding the Veerashaivism in the 12th century.
On the way to Kudala Sangama, about 1 km from it, a newly constructed 'Basava Mahamane Mahamatha' stands in tantalizing the devotees. This is run by a Trust, Basava Dharma Peetha, established in 1992 by the late Shri Mahajagadguru Lingananda Swamiji. After his holiness Aikya, Shri Mathe Mahadevi occupied the seat as the second Mahajagadguru. The trust has constructed two lodgings of fifty and eighty rooms. Tourists can stay in these lodgings very comfortably with payment of very little Indian rupees. The food prepared is simply exquisite and served with Veerashaiva style and tradition.
The birth place of Basavanna.
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A village adjacent to Basavanna Bagewadi. It is the birth place of Basavanna's mother.
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Shrishaila is located in a beautiful hilly place in Andra Pradesh. This is the pontifical throne of Revanaradhya, one of the preceptors. It is famous for Mallikarjun temple where the presiding deity Mallikarjun was Akkamahadevi's unmatched Lord. She had an unsurpassed love and devotion to this God, which were expressed in many of her Vachanas as evidenced by her insignia "Channamallikarjun." Akkamahadevi and Allamaprabhu spent their final days here after Kalyana Kranti (chaos). At the end, Akkamahadevi was merged with her beloved God in a place called " Kadalibana." The tantalizing beauty of this place magnetized many other Sharanas of the 12th century. There is evidence to indicate that Siddarama, as a young boy, also visited this place.
Ulavi is about 75 kms from Karwar is the famous pilgrimage center for Veerashaivas. Here lies the Samadhi (final resting-place) of Channabasavanna, the greatest twelfth century Sharanas, who was associated with Veerashaiva religious movement. After the Kalyana Kranti, Channabasavanna traveled from Kalyana to Ulavi and found solace here and took Aikya in Linga. Within walking distance one will find the Akka Nagalambike's Cave, named after the mother of Channabasavanna and sister of Basavanna.
Yedeyur is in Tumkur district in Karnatak State and has been known for temple and Samadhi (Tomb) of Siddalinga Shivayogi. He was the great Sharana of the 15th century who rekindled the Veerashaivism and rejuvenated its philosophy. He also compiled Vachanas and gave a systematic approach to Shatsthala philosophy.
It is the district in Maharastra state located on national highway #13. This place is famous for Samadhi of Shivayogi Siddarameswara.
From the history of Veerashaivism it clear that Veerashaivas believe and accept the origin of Panchapeethas. The concept of Matha is the integral part of Panchapeethas. The activities that are being carried out from a central location is called "Matha". The Matha is a physical dwelling equivalent of monastery or hermit of the western world. The word "Mathas" is plural to Matha. In the 12th century, there was place called "Anubhava Mantapa" in Kalyana, headed by Allamaprabhu, where religious, spiritual, and socio-economical issues were debated and discussed. In addition, messages were sent out to the public from this place. Due to the problem that arose in Kalyana, Sharanas were forced to disperse in all directions in search of safe-heavens. They might have stayed in places where they might have felt safe while propagating the ideology and the philosophy of the Anubhavamantapa. As the time went by, these places, in all likelihood, became religious centers and came to be known as Mathas.
Prophets who are reverentially addressed as Jagadgurus (preceptors of the world) head present-day Mathas. Since either Basavanna or the 12th century Sharanas did not invoke or suggest the concept of Jagadguru, it is logical to assume that it might have been propagated from Panchapeethas. By the 15th century, Mathas were developed along two main streams; (a) Guru Mathas, and (b) Virakta Mathas. Guru Mathas are either derived or associated with Panchapeethas or Shivayogis.
(a) Guru Mathas
· Balehalli or Balehonnur(Chikkamagalur district, Karnatak state) - seat of Revanaradhya or Revanasiddha
· Sri Taralabalu Jagadguru Brihanmatha at Sirigere (Original Marulasiddha's Ujjani Peetha)
This in fact was the pontifical throne of Marulasiddha, one of the Panchapeethas. Saint Marulasiddha, the contemporary of Basavanna, was a great religious and social reformer of the 12th century in Karnatak. He found " Sadadharma Peetha" (throne of righteousness) on which he installed his disciple Telugubalu Siddeshvara in Ujjani (Bellary District) in Karnatak with blessings "Tarala Balu", meaning, " Long Live, My Child!." Since then, whoever heads this pontifical throne is known as "Taralabalu Jagadguru." In the 17th century, headquarters were shifted from Ujjani to the current Sirigere in Chittradurga district. The successive heads of this Peetha continued to maintain the spiritual and religious values set by Marulasiddha. The current reigning Jagadguru is His Holiness Sri Taralabalu Jagadguru Dr. Shivamurthy Shivacharya Mahaswamiji.
· Srishaila(Andra Pradesh state) - seat of Panditaradhya
· Kedar(Uttar Pradesh state) - seat Ekoramaradhya
· Kashi or Benares (Uttar Pradesh state)- seat of Vishvaradhya
· Suttur Matha at Mysore
· Siddaganga Matha at Tumkur
· Rudraximatha Nagnur Swamiji Matha at Belgaum
(b) The Virakta (renunciate) Mathas
· Murugha Rajendra Brihanmatha at Chittradurga and Dharwad
The current reigning Jagadguru is His Holiness Sri Shivamurthy Murugharajendra Mahaswamiji.
· Moorusavira Matha at Hubli
· Tontadarya Matha at Dambal-Gadag
Even though, some differences exist between both types, overall purpose, goals, and objectives are the same.These Mathas neither have one central prophet like Pope in Catholic Churches or Dalai Lama in Buddhist Pagodas nor do they enjoy commonalties. They are distinct in their own rights and tend to polarize only certain selected section(s) of the Veerashaiva community. Nonetheless, they have shown great leadership in terms of religion and education.
They un-tirelessly practice Dasoha. They feed the hungry; they help the helpless, and show the light to the ignorance. They preserve and propagate Veerashaivism in various ways. They have taken lead in Vachana compilation, publication, and translation into many languages like English, Hindi, and Marathi. They spare no efforts in preserving and protecting old literature and producing new literature. They have established medical schools, hospitals, nursing schools, engineering schools, fine art schools, schools for blinds, free boarding schools, nursery schools, women dormitories, shelter for abused and battered, vocational schools, and libraries. The heads of these Mathas are highly educated and all are men.
In addition to these traditional religious centers, there are two non-traditional centers known as Ashramas located in Dharwad and Bangalore:
· Kumarswamiji's Tapavana Ashram in Dharwad
· Mate Mahadevi Ashram in Dharwad and Bangalore
The current reigning Jagadguru is Her Holiness Jagadguru Maate Mahadevi
These centers are more philosophical rather than ritualistic.
Swamijis (note Swamiji is singular and Swamijis is plural) are the heads of Mathas in India. They are also known as Jagadgurus that literally means "Teachers of the universe" (Jagad means universe and guru means teacher). Swamiji is equivalent to Pope in Catholic religion. However, there is no single Swamiji in Veerashaivism like the Pope in Catholicism. The reason is evident in their structural differences. All Catholic Churches are branches of the Vatican in Rome and are governed by the Pope, who is the head of these churches. Unlike that set up, the Mathas are independent entities and hence there is no single governing body or the person. Swamijis can be either males or females. But there are, currently, no female Swamijis as the heads of the Mathas. However, there is one female Swamijis, Mate Mahadevi, who is the head of the Ashram (religious center) which is not a traditional Matha. Like Priests in Catholic religion, the Swamijis are also have taken the vows of celibacy.
Making of Swamiji is a long and hard road. The reigning Swamiji usually picks up a child or a boy to be his/her successor. There are no set criteria as to the selection process. It is entirely up to the Swamiji to use his/her best judgement. Once the child or boy is designated, the reigning Swamiji takes the full responsibility of educating the child/boy to his fullest extent. Formal as well as religious education is tendered to would be Swamiji. In addition, undertaking of administrative responsibilities is also taught, as the Swamiji is required to administer the assets of the Matha that may include numerous educational institutions. Current Swamijis are highly educated, for example Sirigere Swamiji has Ph.D. and has traveled extensively all over the world. Many of the Swamijis have written numerous books, treatises, and thesis on all aspects of Veerashaiva religion. Some of Swamijis even disseminate religious teachings through regular monthly newsletters.
Swamijis are invaluable asset to the Veerashaiva community. They tirelessly service different needs of the society. For some Veerashaivas, Swamiji is everything; mother, father, elderly spokesperson, advisor, confidant, big brother or big sister, and above all the Supreme Being. Swamiji's word is considered to be equivalent to God's word.
You can always recognize Swamiji in a crowd by his/her cloths. They always wear orange colored cloths. These colored cloths are reserved only for Swamijis and hence no one should wear or imitate them. When you wish to have the audience with Swamiji, you do not shake hands (western customary) but bow to his/her feet.
The science is a system or a method based on scientific principles governed by natural laws whereas the religion is based on religious principles governed by religious laws, which are known as codes of conduct. Even though,they are two distinct disciplines, they are connected to one another.
The world we live in can be divided into two distinct worlds; physical and spiritual. The physical world is the world that we see with our eyes and feel its presence. The spiritual world is the world that we cannot either see with our eyes or feel its presence or touch it with our hands but only we can sense its presence.
The science explains the creation of universe and everything in it in terms of physical entities whereas the religion explains the creation of the same in terms of spiritual entities and further provides the vehicle for transition from physical world to spiritual world. Science explains the creation and annihilation of the physical world whereas the religion also explains the same phenomena not of the physical world but of the spiritual world.
Veerashaivism is the religion of practical life of the physical world and therefore intimately connect to science. Veerashaivism believes that the author of all Creation and its Evolution is Shakti (energy) or consciousness-force. This Shakti abides in con-substantial union with Shiv. Its evolution starts as soon as Shiva feels conscious of His Being. His sport (Leele) begins as soon as His Awareness of 'I am' comes to Him as a flash. But there has been a state when He was totally unaware of Himself like the waves hidden in the unruffled state of the sea. Like the peacock's limbs and color are inherent in its egg, the entire creation - mobile as well as immobile- is inherent in Parashiva or the Godhead without form. It is indivisible, impart, existence-consciousness-bliss, eternal and perfect. This is the pathway for creation of the physical world.
Yoga can be interpreted in different ways in different contexts. It usually means meditation, discipline, or the union. But it also means worship (Uapasana). In the realm of spirituality, worship means a veritable effort on devotee's part to realize the presence of the Supreme that consists of all rituals and observances either physical or mental. Feelings are deeper than thoughts and thoughts are deeper than speech. In religious sphere, feelings begin from above and the religious faith is a manifestation of deeper feelings. Worship is an articulate form of feeling and one should perform worship as though the God is present. The mode of worship must correspond to issuance of God and the feelings of the worshipper must correspond to the character of God, which is spiritual.
Shivayoga offers the spiritual realization. One speaks of Absolute in myths, metaphysics, and religious systems. We must not take the mythical, metaphysical, and religious ideas literally, but accept them as symbolically. When religious ideas and metaphysical concepts are realized as symbols, the world of our experience becomes artistic. We become aware of the world of objects at superficial level. However, we become conscious of the self at a deeper level, and realize the Absolute still at a deeper level.
The ultimate realization for Veerashaivas is Shiv. The Veerashaivas worship Shiv only in the form of Linga, which is the emblem of Shiv. This Linga known as Istalinga is carried on his/her body all the time. Veerashaivism replaces the congregational worship in temple with individual worship in home, thereby eliminating the need for Poojari (priest, the middleman) and thus preserving the purity of worship.
The process of worship is simple. The worshipper must remember that the Istalinga, which he/she wares, is the representative of the Inner Light, which is known as Jyotirlinga or Pranalinga. The proper process involves the worshipping of the Istalinga with water, holy ashes, flowers, bilva leaves, sandle paste, incense, rice grains, waving of light, and sugar candy. After this process is over, the worshipper begins to gaze over Istalinga placed in the left palm of his/her hand and utters Mantra in his/her mind. The Mantra may be panchakshari or shadakshari namashivaya or omnamah shivaya. The gazing upon the speck of light reflected in the Istalinga is the essence of Lingayoga. With half-closed eyes, the worshipper fixes his/her attention upon the light reflected in the Istalinga, blue-black coating of which serves to widen the deepen concentration. Such concentrated gaze generates tapas or psychic heart, which stirs the activity of dormant pineal gland that is responsible for producing tejas or psychic light. This in turn leads towards the release of "Thought-force," which is the power of excitation and vision. Thus Shivayoga takes one into the region of effective will (the power of creation) and intuitive knowledge (the power of seeing).
The qualities of Veerashaivism can be summed up as follows.
- Universal in nature.
- Castles in structure.
- Equality in practice.
- Simplistic in mode of approach.
- Self realization in devotion.
- Non-injury in vision.
- Convenience in worship.
- Ease in adoption.
- Recognizes the dignity of labor - work is worship.
- Worship of Istalinga in practice.
- Erected on Shatsthala foundation .
- Propelled by Ashtavarnas.
- Energized by Panchacharas.
- Clear pathways in attaining salvation.
- Harmony between thought and action.
- Harmony between word and deed - the union of body and soul.
- Conduct is the touchstone.
- Does not believe in theory of rebirth.
- Greater value on human life.
- Based on life-practical experience.
- Tested Philosophical conclusions - drawn only after testing their validity through experience.
- Discards the concept of Heaven and Hell - doing good is heaven and doing bad is hell.
- Upheld by great Sharanas and Swamijis of all the centuries.
- Protected by Veerashaiva Mathas(Peethas).
- Flourished since the 12th century.
- Covered with vast literature.
What is a prayer? Prayer is an act of praying or supplication or entreaty to make a humble or earnest request or ask God humbly for something. The prayer has various components: intention of praying -praying for oneself or praying for some one else or the combination of both; mode of praying-silent praying or aloud praying or the combination of both; kind of praying - individual praying or mass praying or combination of both; purpose of praying - pray to ask something in return or pray without expecting anything in return; and an object to pray - a physical presence of form of God or Goddess or a mental presence of form of God or Goddesses. Thus, the praying varies considerably that depends upon one's belief and convenience. Nonetheless, the praying is usually concentrated only to temples (temple-praying). But within the frame work of Veerashaiva doctrine, temple-praying is abandoned in favor of home-praying and further praying (Lingapooja) with selfless consciousness is emphasized and encouraged. It appears that prayer has been in practice since the dawn of civilization as evidenced by numerous ancient temples/churches/synagogues existing today all over the world, especially, in those countries with rich ancient civilization.
The most important and mind boggling question is, why do we need to pray? It is a question for debate. Some people might argue that it is a waste of time and yet some other people might ponder on numerous questions,such as, since we are praying God, "How do we really know that God exists?" If God does not exist then why do we pray? It may or may not be true that nobody can prove or disprove the existence of God. But for the moment, suppose that God really does exist. Don’t you think that praying might bring some good deeds than bad deeds? If not, why then our founding fathers have introduced the concept of praying?
Even though, the concept of praying is traditionally handed down from generation to generation, it has certain physiological aspect too. It is a common knowledge that our body needs some kind of regular exercise to remain in tip-top condition. In a similar manner, mind also needs some kind of exercise to remain in an healthy condition. In that respect, the praying is a kind of mental exercise that gives strength and power, which otherwise, cannot be derived from any other source. Praying on a regular basis every day does more good than harm relieving extraneous as well as internal stresses and strains.
Today, many western physicians and scholars agree that praying every day or meditation or yoga reduces stress, tension and much other health related problems in human beings.
One should not consider that the temple is the only appropriate place for praying. According to Veerashaiva philosophy, we need not go temple to pray. This is beautifully expressed by Basavanna as
Enna Kale Kamba, Dehave Degula, Shirave Honna Kalasavayya.....
This means that "My legs are pillars, My body is the temple, and My head is itself the golden crown of the temple..." When we ourselves are walking temples, there is no need for us to search temples outside our own body to pray or worship God.
In eastern civilization, praying every day has been an important part of life since the birth of human civilization. Children at very young age learn to pray from their parents and teachers alike. Till today, it has been a customary for children to pray at the start of the school in India.
It appears that prayer is our great source of power for removing obstacles from our lives. Even, great Sharanas like Basavanna, Channabasavanna, Akkamahadevi, Allamaprabhu, and great persons like Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., believed in praying and achieved a great deal in their lives through this vehicle.
Veerashaivism is a gentle but not a harsh religion. Unlike Hinduism, Veerashaivism is monotheism. Its concepts and philosophy are based on common experiences of the daily life rather than on the scared holy books or scriptures. Hence, the Veerashaivism is considered to be highly suitable for one who wishes to practice religion in every day life.
The ultimate goal of any religion is to lead towards Moksha (final salvation). Different religions offer different paths towards this goal. However, Veerashaivism offers more practical way of achieving this goal through the practice of brotherhood, women's emancipation, divinity of labor. It does not acknowledge the physical existence of heaven and hell. But it does insist that heaven and hell are right here; doing 'good' to the society is heaven and doing 'bad' to the society is hell (kayakave kailasa = work is worship). It prohibits temple-worship and encourages home-worship - God is everywhere, so one need not go the temple to see or pray God. Self-reliance is the basic theme - no priest or the mediator is necessary for praying or worshiping. See also the section "Principles of Veerashaivism"
Veerashaiva religion is an open religion i.e. it is open to anyone regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, age, and sex, rich or poor provided he/she subscribes to the principles and philosophy of the religion. And furthermore, accepts certain obligations set by the codes of the religion.
There are few steps that one must follow in order to become Veerashaiva. These are:
· Istalinga Diksha - This is the initiation to wear Istalinga. This is done only once in a lifetime. A Guru usually does this. So you need a Guru who is willing to perform this important aspect of Veerashaivism. Where can you find a Guru? Guru is a Swamiji in Veerashaivism, who is the head of the Matha in India. Most importantly, to be accepted by the Veerashaiva community, initiation must and should be performed by a Guru who is prominent in the community; usually means well- known Matha. During the ceremony, the Guru instructs about the proper way of doing Istalinga Pooja, preaches about Veerashaiva principles and philosophy, and guides about uttering of Mantra (Om Namah Shivaya). This ceremony symbolizes the life-long commitment to the tenets of Veerashaivism. Thereafter, the person is required to wear Istalinga on his/her body all the time.
· Istalinga Pooja - This is an important part of Veerashaivism that must be performed everyday as instructed by Guru. There need not be any special place or room for this purpose.
Once these are steps are completed, a person truly becomes a Veerashaiva. As a Veerashaiva, it is not required to wear any special kind of dresses, like orange cloths worn by Swamiji (defenders and propagators of faith). Orange color cloths are reserved for Swamiji, and hence should not be worn at all. It is also not necessary to marry into Veerashaiva family in order to become Veerashaiva. Finally, it should be noted that becoming Veerashaiva does not mean becoming a Guru. The procedure and steps are altogether quite different to become a Guru, which are usually initiated in childhood and continued on until he/she becomes a Guru. These procedures, however, are not uniform and are usually set by individual Mathas in India. Nonetheless, making of Guru is not by choice but by selection.
In a loose sense, the Veerashaivism and Lingayatism are interchangeable, meaning they refer to one and the same religion. However, there exists a great distinction between them. Undoubtedly, the Veerashaivism is more ancient than Lingayatism. The word Veerashaivism is the act of worship of Shiv whereas Lingayatism is the act of wearing Linga on the body. Veerashaiva is the person who follows Veerashaivism and the Lingayat is a person who follows Lingayatism. Lingayata also known as Lingavanta is more ordinarily common and more know. The Veerashaivism, on the other hand, has been more usage in religious tracts and literature.
Hindu religion is said to be the religion of Varnashramadharma, which is based on three principles; (1) the four castes (Kshatriya, Brahmana, Vaishya, and Sudra), (2) the four stages (Ashramas), and (3) the duties assigned to four castes and stages. The last principle is further elaborated into (a) different physical duties assigned to four casts (Varnadharma), and (b) sixteen religious sacramental rites, like Namakarna, Jatakarna, etc. These are called Ashramadharma. The sixteen sacramental rites are special privileges of the Kshatriyas (warriors and aristocracy), Brahmans (priests), Vaishyavas (businessmen, cultivators), but not of Sudras (untouchables, treated like slaves). Thus creating socio-economical, religious, and intellectual, injustice in the society. Even though, this segregation started as a matter of convenience in the beginning, it later transformed into birthrights. Another notable thing about Hinduism is that women of the first three casts are even considered to be Sudras, and hence, were excluded from the privilege of sacramental rites. Veerashaiva religion done away with these and ushered in a new era of socio-economical, religious, and intellectual life. Thus Veerashaivism can no way be sub-religion or sect of Hindu religion. Veerashaivas are Hindus in the sense that they are descendents of the Hindus; they are Hindus as a race but not as a religion. However, they are Hindu religion in respect of worshipping one of the Hindu Gods, Shiv.
Shaivism is a sect of Hindu religion and Veerashaivism may be considered as sect of Shaivism as far as the concept Shiv is concerned; a deity of supreme nature source of the cosmic principle and spirit, who created the universe, protected it, and reabsorbed it. Some other similarity being holy ash (Vibhuti), Holy beads (Rudrakshi) and chants of Vedic a hymn (Mantra). However, much dissimilarity between Shaivism and Veerashaivism is eminent. The word 'Shiv' prefixed with 'Veera' makes the whole distinction that is explained elaborately in various ways. Shaivism is the religion worship of Shiv in the form of Linga in the temple (Stavaralinga) whereas the Veerashaivism is the religion also of worship of Shiv in the form of Linga but worn on the body (Istalinga). Both differ in (a) methods of attainment of Moksha (final beatitude), (b) conducting spiritual practices, and (c) essence of basic principles of society. Veerashaivism is more rational and spiritual than being dogmatic and ritualistic.
The living Hindu faith today is seen in the image worship and all the ritual practices and the rituals are embodied in the methods and forms the image worship. The Bhakti (devotion) to the deity is expressed by the image worshipping. Different Hindu sects have adopted different symbols and images, anthropoid or otherwise, of deities they worship. Shivalinga, the emblem or symbol of Shiv, is the universal object of worship by the Shaivas.
In order to understand and appreciate the current status of Veerashaiva community, one must understand its plight to achieve its present condition. In that respect, let us go back in time and trace its struggle.
The Veerashaiva religion was born about 8OO years ago in a place called Kalyana in the hands of Basavanna and the spectrum of Sharanas. Since its birth, it has undergone some face-lifts, here and there, without losing its soul or the basic appearance. It never went too far out of Karnatak to brighten its glory except to neighboring states like Maharastra, Andra Pradesh, Tamilanadu, and Kerala. Its wealth of literature, especially of 12th century’s was hidden buried and never surfaced until this century, for unknown reasons. At the turn of this century, P.G.Halakatti made it all possible by unearthing the hidden literature. Thanks to his vision and resolute efforts in collecting and bringing the Vachana literature to the eyes of public. Now the Veerashaiva literature has taken a vivid charm and enjoys the popularity all over Karnatak - the Birth State of this stupendous religion.
The land of Karnatak spreads from Kaveri to Godavari. It was rich, flourishing and variegated. There was much progress in all walks of Veerashaiva community. The Veerashaivas were slowly and surely gaining prominence in Karnatak. But due to political outburst, the Karnatak fell into pieces. Along with that, the Veerashaivas were also split up into many fragments and were forced to join Mysore, Maharastra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu and Kerala states. They could not identify themselves as Veerashaivas due to new hostile environment and became regressed and started living in isolations. The Veerashaivas lost their originality owing to the pressure and force exerted by other states. There was no contact with fellow-Veerashaivas in other states.
Some leaders started to mobilize Veerashaiva community but their efforts became fruitless, as they were in minority. Things became more compounded by the rule of Muslims in North Karnatak for two hundred years and of the Peshawas for hundred years causing Veerashaiva community to undergo even further hardships and sufferings. During British rule in India, however, Veerashaivas were able to organize themselves to find some common ground. A rare chance was provided to them to develop their religion, culture, literature and language. In 1869, Shri Channabasappa, then Deputy Educational inspector, laid the solid foundation for the growth and development of Kannada in that part of the country. The poor sections in Veerashaiva community were given ample opportunities to develop themselves. Almost at the same time in 1883, two prominent leaders namely Gilaganchi Gurusiddappa and Artal Rudragouda established "Lingayat Education Fund". Shivamurthayya Swamy of Hoolimath and Sirasangi Lingaraj Desai and others tried to encourage arts, science, and literature. Sanskrit vocational schools evinced a keen interest in furthering religious development. Originally, Sabha (small gathering) was formed in Dharwad. It was hailed by all the leaders of Veerashaiva community and it was then decided that every year such a Sammelan (grand gathering) should be held. Kumar Swamiji of Hanagal traveled widely to collect funds for the successful completion of the Sammelan. In the year 19O4, the first Veerashaiva Convention was held in Dharwad under the able guidance and active supervision of Kumar Swamiji of Hanagal. Sirsangi Lingaraj Desai of Navalgunda State served as the first President of All India Veerashaiva Convention. From 1904 to 1992, tremendous progress and advancement in all fields including social, political, economic, and religious spheres were achieved. In 1956 all the states in India were reorganized. As result of this, all the fragments, with some exceptions originally separated from Karnatak, became united.
Simultaneous uplifting of the community was initiated throughout Karnatak: In the north by KLE (Karnatak Lingayat Education) Society, Rudraximatha of Nagnur, Murughamatha of Dharwad, Moorusavirmatha of Hubli, Tontadarya Matha of Gadag; in the mid-state by Taralabalu Brihanmatha of Sirigere, Siddhaganga Matha of Tumkur, Murugha Rajendra Brihanmatha of Chitradurg, and in the south by Suttur Matha of Mysore.
Many great visionaries like Sirasangi Desai and Raja Lakamanagouda devoted their wealth and time in furtherance of the community. They established "Karnatak Lingayat Educational (KLE)" society and opened up the first Lingayat College in Belgaum, the first of its kind in Northern Karnatak. This institution has provided a stepping stone for many poor and needy Veerashaivas. Now the same society has grown boundlessly and has established many colleges, high schools, and primary schools through out Karnatak. In addition, it also operates a medical school and a hospital in Belgaum. Another event that elevated the Veerashaiva community was the establishment of Karnatak University in Dharwad by Honorable Kambali and Wrangler D.C. Powate. Without their eyesight, this part of the country would have been still in the dark ages. The university not only provided the jobs for Veerashaivas but also gave them an opportunity once again to become a community. Many scholars in the university have devoted their time and effort to study the Vachana literature of Sharanas of all the centuries, and have translated them into English thereby giving a wider expose. This university has now became the central source of all Veerashaiva literature. In a parallel effort, but in south Karnatak, Basava Samithi of Bangalore made a significant contribution by recovering much Veerashaiva literature and giving a religion a national status.
From educational, financial, cultural and literary point of views, the Veerashaiva Community has shown a greater progress than any other religious groups in Karnatak. Politically too it has a powerful grip over the state and has contributed great socio-political leaders to the nation. Among them are: the late Hardikar Manjappa, famous as Gandhi of Karnatak; Shri B.D. Jatti, the Ex-Vice-President of India; Shri D.C.Pawate, Ex-Governor of Punjab; Shri S.Nijalingappa, Ex-Chief Minister of Karnatak as well as Ex-President of the All India Congress; Shri Veerendra Patil, Ex-Chief Minister of Karnatak and the Ex-Union Minister; Shri S.R.Bommai, Ex-Chief Minister of Karnatak and the President of Janata Dal Party ;Shri M.S.Gurupad Swamy, the Ex-Union Minister; Shri Shivaraj Patil, Ex-Loka Sabha Speaker; and Shri S. Mallikarjunaiah, Ex-Deputy Speaker. An important and unchallenged contribution of the present day Veerashaiva Community is in the field of education. Hundreds of educational Institutions have been successfully launched. Great Swamijis, Mathas and the other Veerashaiva organizations are running many of them. The prominent amongst them are Rudraximatha Belgaum, Murughamatha Dharwad, Moorusavirmatha Hubli, Tontadarya Matha Gadag, Taralabalu Brihanmatha Sirigere, Suttur Matha Mysore, Siddaganga Matha Tumkur, Murugha Rajendra Brihanmatha, Chitradurg, and so on and so forth. Free boarding is provided to accommodate thousands of poor students, without any distinction in caste or creed, who otherwise are unable get either higher school or higher education. Students from all communities are also allowed to board in their set-ups. However, it should be noted that majority of the people struggle very hard for their bare existence in under developed country like India. Service done by Mathas, especially, with no intention of alienation, is no ordinary contribution. Veerashaiva community must keep this in mind.
The contribution of religious organizations to the field of literature is rich and abundant. Many such organizations have taken extreme interest in publishing books in a hope to spread the knowledge. Today, the population of Veerashaiva community is in the range of 2O million, mostly inhabited in the Karnatak State, India. Besides, Veerashaivas have emigrated to other Indian states as well as to many foreign countries. Among them, the United States of America, Canada, and England have provided homelands for many Veerashaivas.
In early 1978, a concerned group of Veerashaiva friends joined the forces together and created "Veerashaiva Samaja of North America (VSNA)" to serve the needs of Veerashaivas in USA and Canada. Now there are about sixteen affiliated chapters all over USA and Canada. Much later, Veerashaiva Samaja of Untied Kingdom (VSUK) was established in England. Now there is also an organization in Australia too.
In 1979, dedicated group of friends incepted Veerashaiva Samaja of New York (VSNY) as an independent body, even though, the idea of such organization was in the works in New York at least 10 years prior to the establishment of VSNA. VSNY is now affiliated to VSNA in the form of a chapter but it still maintains its independent status due its freethinking.
There are various choices to get further information depending upon the degree of information needed. The following are few suggestions regarding resources:
1. President of Veerashaiva Samaja of New York(VSNY) .
2. President of Veerashaiva Samaja of North America(VSNA).
3. There are about sixteen local chapters of VSNA in various major cities in USA. The local chapter Presidents are the best sources for information.
4. Kannada Research Institute, Karnatak University, Dharwad, Karnatak State, India.
5. Sirigere Swamiji
If you have any difficulty, please see the CONTACT US section.
- Acharya - Teacher
- Advaita - A Philosophical system of monism ery thing else is illusion.
- Advaithi - Person who believes and practices Adwaitha philosophy.
- Agasthya - A sage known for drinking all the water of the ocean.
- Akalpa - Beyond imagination.
- Akashanga - Body associated with sky
- Agasthya - A sage known for drinking all the water of the ocean.
- Akalpa - Beyond imagination.
- Akashanga - Body associated with sky.
- Akkamahadevi - Twelve century Sharane who won the title of Akka or Sister.
- Akshara - Alphabets.
- Allama - The first president of Anubhavamantapa
- Anga - Human body.
- Angalingodbhava - Birth of Linga and Anga.
- Anubhava - Image of experience or Experience beyond senses.
- Anubhavamantapa - A place built by Basava for discussing spiritual and social issues, Parliament for discourse of Veerashaivism.
- Anukalpa - Beyond imagination, qualities possessed by a Jangama.
- Aprathima - Endless, qualities possessed by a Jangama.
- Ashta - Eight.
- Ashtavaranas- Eight things surrounding us. Guru,Linga, Jangama, Bhasma, Rudrakshi, Mantra, adodaka, and Prasada.
- Ashtamadas - Egoism associated with eight things.
- Athma - Soul.
- Athmanga - Anga associated with the soul.
- Avadanabhakthi - One of the six kinds of Bhakti
- Avarna - Surrounding.
- Bhakta - Devotional person, devotee.
- Bhakti - Devotion.
- Bhakthibandari - Title given to Basavanna. Treasury of devotion.
- Basavanna - A social reformer who eradicated discrimination between sex and social classes. Stressed Kayaka and Dasoha.
- Basmhadarana - Wearing sacred ash.
- Bhava - Image.
- Bhavalinga - Transcendental aspect of the divine.
- Bhavachara - Image associated with achara.
- Bhavi - A person with untapped devotion.
- Bijjala - King of Kalyana whose chief minister was Basavanna
- Bindhu - Dot, Represents Shakti, the dynamic.
- Bruthyachara - To Protect from defamation of Veerashaiva philosophy.
- Cast - Grouping into Social classes.
- Channabasavanna - Nephew of Basavanna known as the master of Shatsthala.
- Chichshakti - Shakti associated with Chit, Divine will of conscious power of God. Ichhashakti, Jnanashakti and Kriyashakti are the three parts. Chidbhakthi Bhakti.
- Chit - Refers to Soul or that which gives life to body.
- Dasaru - Servant of God.
- Dasoha - A place where food is served.
- Deva - God.
- Dharmachara - Practice associated with Dharma (religion).
- Dharana - Wear, apply like Bhasmadharana
- Divyalingadevaru - One of the Gurus of Gosala Matha.
- Dwaithi - A person who believes in Dwaitha philosophy, Dualism.
- Dwaitha - Philosophy which says God is true and the world is true. They cannot become one.
- Ganachara - Disassociation from remarks against Ashtavaranas.
- Gandha - Paste of Sandlewood, Smell.
- Ganga - A holy river in India.
- Gandhi - Father of non violence who fought for India’s independence.
- Ghee - Clarified butter.
- Gosala - Name of Matha, Place of residence for Jagadguru.
- Gosaladevaru - One of the Gurus of Gosala Matha.
- Guheshvara - Allamaprabhu refers to God of his devotion.
- Gurukarana - Grace of Guru.
- Gurulinga - Linga associated with Guru.
- Herambha - Poet who wrote the biography of Siddalingeshwara.
- Ichhashakti - Shakti associated with desire or Ichhe, Force of desire.
- Ikya - Sixth state of Shatsthala, Union of Anga with Linga(also spelled as Aikya)
- Istalinga - Linga given to a child or a person by Guru to wear and worship throughout his life. This will intensify his devotion.
- Jagad - World.
- Jagadguru - Guru of the World.
- Jagaduthpathi - Birth or creation of the world.
- Jalanga - Body associated with water.
- Jangama - A moving person who helps people to follow the spiritual path.
- Jangamadevanaiah - See Jangama.
- Jangamalinga - Linga associated with Jangama.
- Japa - Silent prayer.
- Jiva - Life.
- Jivathma - A Person.
- Jnana - Knowledge.
- Jnanananda - Person with knowledge.
- Jnany - One who posses the knowledge or Jnana.
- Jnanachara - Achara associated with Gnana or knowledge.
- Jyothi - Light.
- Kala - Time, the divine creation or Shrusti.
- Kale - Radiance, refers to creation.
- Kalmasha - Impurities.
- Kalpa - Evolution, destruction.
- Kannada - Language of Karnatak, a state in India.
- Karana - Grace.
- Karmas - Things that a person accumulate through his deeds.
- Karnatak - A state in India.
- Karthika - Refers to November when festival of light is performed.
- Kashi - The city of Benares (Varanasi) on the bank of river Ganga. One of the five holy places for Veerashaivas.
- Kayaka - Work for true living.
- Kedar - One of the five holy places for Veerashaivas.
- Kriya - Work.
- Kriyachara - Practice associated with work (Kriya).
- Kriyashakti - Shakti associated with work.
- Kudala Sangama - Basavanna's God of devotion and Basavanna's Aikya place.
- Linga - Refers to formless God.
- Linganga - Refers to God and devotee.
- Lingangasamarasya - Union of Anga with Linga.
- Lingachara - Practice associated with Linga.
- Lingadharane - Wearing Istalinga blessed by Guru.
- Lingaikya - Union of Anga with Linga.
- Lingodbhava - Birth of Linga. Arising from Linga.
- Maha - Big.
- Mahadev - Shiv.
- Mahalinga - Shivalinga.
- Mahamaheshvar - Shiv.
- Mahathme - Epic stories of Shiva.
- Mahatma - Noble.
- Mahesha - Shiv.
- Maheshvara - Shiv.
- Mallikarjun - Akkamahadevi's God of devotion.
- Manasu - Soul, Mind.
- Mantapa - Podium.
- Mantra - Words used in the prayer. Hymns.
- Manu - A Saint.
- Marithande - Father, God of devotion.
- Masa - Month.
- Matha - Place where Swamiji resides and preaches.
- Maya - Illusions, Power of obstruction.
- Mayaranjana - Vivid Illusions.
- Moksha - Salvation.
- Nada - Noise, Represents Shiva, the Static.
- Namashivaya - Panchakshari mantra used in prayer.
- Nirabhari - One who is weight less.
- Niradhara - One without support.
- Niralambha - Qualities possessed by a Jangama.
- Niranjana - Free from illusions.
- Nirdhehiimaiah - One without body.
- Nirguna - Good qualities.
- Nirmala - Pure.
- Nirmaya - Who is beyond Maya or illusions.
- Nirupadika - Qualities possessed by a Jangama.
- Nirupama - Qualities possessed by a Jangama.
- Niruvaya - Without Air.
- Nirvana - Disassociate with worldly things, A state of Moksha.
- Nissangi - Unattached.
- Nissima - Great.
- Niste - Determined.
- Nithya - Every day, Eternity.
- Nityachara - Practice associated with every day.
- Om - Prefix for the Panchakshari mantra making it Shadakshari mantra.
- Padodaka - Water from the feet of Guru or Jangama.
- Pancha - Five.
- Panchabuthas - Five elements: Sky, Air, Fire, Water, and Earth
- Panchakshari - Na Ma Shi Va Ya - Five letter word.
- Panchamurthy - Five images of Shiva.
- Parabrahma - Supreme God.
- Parashakti - Shakti associated with God.
- Parashiva - Shiv.
- Parashivathathva - Philosophy of Shiva.
- Paravasthu - Anga.
- Pinda - Unborn child, Fetus.
- Pindagnana - Knowledge of the unborn child (Anga and Linga are same)
- Pooja - Worship of God in a orderly way.
- Prabhu - Refers to Allamaprabhu, Lord.
- Prabhudevaru - See Prabhu.
- Prabhuve - See Prabhu.
- Prakara - In a way.
- Pranalinga - Linga associated with Prana or soul, Cosmic aspect of the divine.
- Pranalingi - A state in Shatsthala.
- Prasada - Food that is given without asking or craving, A state in Shatsthala.
- Prasadalinga - Linga associated with Prasada.
- Prasadi - A person with certain qualities.
- Prithvi - Earth.
- Prithvanga - Body associated with earth.
- Priya - Lover.
- Rasa - Water.
- Renuka - Foremost Jagadguru of Veerashaivas who preached to sage Agasthya
- Rudra - Refers to Shiv.
- Rudrakshi - Seed of a tree which grew from the water spilled from Shiv's eyes.
- Rupa - Form.
- Sadaka - A person who is engaged in accomplishing, practicing religion.
- Sachhidananda - Refers to Shiva, embodiment of bliss.
- Sada - Always.
- Sadachara - One of Panchacharas - means to lead a simple life.
- Sadyonumuktha - Peaceful face of God - Shiva.
- Samarasa - Unity or equality between Anga and Linga.
- Samsara - Family or thing that a person can have bondage.
- Samsaraheya - Disassociate with the things that we like.
- Sangamadeva - Name of devotional God.
- Saptha - Seven.
- Sapthachara - Seven acharas or deeds.
- Sarva - Every thing.
- Sarvachara - One of the five acharas.
- Sarvadhara - God.
- Sarvasadhana - One who accomplishes every thing.
- Sastras - Rituals, Tradition.
- Sath (satthu) - Refers to death or destruction..
- Sat-Chit-Ananda - Refers to birth, death, and happiness.
- Sathyachara - Truth.
- Shabda - Noise.
- Shadakshari - Refers to Om Na Mas Shi Va Ya.
- Shakti - Power associated with God.
- Shankaradevaru - Name of a Guru.
- Sharana - One who follows the path of Shiva.
- Shatsthala - Six stages before salvation.
- Shivachara - Achara about Shiva, Accepting Shiva as savior.
- Shivalinga - Emblem of Shiva.
- Shivamantra - Prayer associated with Shiva.
- Shivasharana - Sharana or devotees of Shiva.
- Shivayogi - Yogi of Shiva.
- Shradda - Concentration.
- Sunya - Emptiness, that which contained every thing, Nothingness, Void
- Siddalinga - Name of Shivayogi.
- Siddalingeshvara - Religious philosophy, established, decided.
- Siddarama - Name of Shivayogi.
- Siddaramaiah - Name of Shivayogi.
- Siddeshvara - God of devotion.
- Sparsha - Touch.
- Srishaila - One of the five holy places for Veerashaivas, India
- Sthala - Place, God.
- Sura - Godly.
- Suthaka - Experience of doing bad deeds.
- Swamy - Addressing of Guru.
- Tattva - Principle.
- Tripura - A historic person who received boon from God.
- Trupti - Content, Satisfaction.
- Untouchable - People in the lowest class of caste system.
- Upadesha - Teachings from Guru.
- Uthpathi - Creation, Birth.
- Vachanas - Sayings.
- Vaktha - A Person.
- Vayuanga - Anga associated with Air.
- Veerabhadra - Shiv.
- Veeramaheshvara - Shiv.
- Veerashaiva - A person who follows Veerashaivism.
- Veerashaivism - A religion, Worship of Shiva through Istalinga.
- Vibhuti - Sacred ash worn on the body.
- Vishnu - God, the protector of the universe
- Vyragini - A female person who disassociate worldly things.
- Vyragya - Disassociate worldly things.
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